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Full text of "The school and society; being three lectures, supplemented by a statement of the University Elementary School"

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1 9 O 7 Q CHICAGO 




FIRST EDITION 1,000 copies. Printed November, 1899. 

SECOND IMPRESSION 1,500 copies. Printed February, 1900. 

THIRD IMPRESSION 5,000 copies. Printed July, 1900. 

FOURTH IMPRESSION i ,000 copies. Printed June, 1904. 

FIFTH IMPRESSION 2,500 copies. Printed February, 1905. 

SIXTH IMPRESSION 2,500 copies. Printed August, 1907. 

Composed and Printed By 

The University of Chicago Press 

Chicago. Illinois. U. S. A. 




















THE three lectures presented in the following 
pages were delivered before an audience of 
parents and others interested in the University 
Elementary School, in the month of April of 
the year 1899. Mr. Dewey revised them in 
part from a stenographic report, and unimpor 
tant changes and the slight adaptations neces 
sary for the press have been made in his absence. 
The lectures retain therefore the unstudied char 
acter as well as the power of the spoken word. 
As they imply more or less familiarity with 
the work of the Elementary School, Mr. Dewey s 
supplementary statement of this has been added. 


A SECOND edition affords a grateful opportunity 
for recalling that this little book is a sign of the 
cooperating thoughts and sympathies of many 
persons. Its indebtedness to Mrs. Emmons 
Elaine is partly indicated in the dedication. 
From my friends, Mr. and Mrs. George Herbert 
Mead, came that interest, unflagging attention to 
detail, and artistic taste which, in my absence, 
remade colloquial remarks until they were fit to 
print, and then saw the results through the press 
with the present attractive result a mode of 
authorship made easy, which I recommend to 
others fortunate enough to possess such friends. 

It would be an extended paragraph which 
should list all the friends whose timely and per 
sisting generosity has made possible the school 
which inspired and defined the ideas of these 
pages. These friends, I am sure, would be the 
first to recognize the peculiar appropriateness of 
especial mention of the names of Mrs. Charles R. 
Crane and Mrs. William R. Linn. 

And the school itself in its educational work is 
a joint undertaking. Many have engaged in 
shaping it. The clear and experienced intelli 
gence of my wife is wrought everywhere into its 

texture. The wisdom, tact and devotion of its 
instructors have brought about a transformation 
of its original amorphous plans into articulate 
form and substance with life and movement of 
their own. Whatever the issue of the ideas pre 
sented in this book, the satisfaction coming from 
the cooperation of the diverse thoughts and deeds 
of many persons in undertaking to enlarge the 
life of the child will abide. 

January 5, 1900 



We are apt to look at the school from an individu 
alistic standpoint, as something between teacher 
and pupil, or between teacher and parent. That 
which interests us most is naturally the progress 
made by the individual child of our acquaintance, 
his normal physical development, his advance in 
ability to read, write, and figure, his growth in 
the knowledge of geography and history, im 
provement in manners, habits of promptness, 
order, and industry it is from such standards as 
these that we judge the work of the school. And 
rightly so. Yet the range of the outlook needs 
to be enlarged. What the best and wisest parent 
wants for his own child, that must the community 
want for all of its children. Any other ideal for 
our schools is narrow and unlovely ; acted upon, 
it destroys our democracy. All that society has 
accomplished for itself is put, through the agency 
of the school, at the disposal of its future mem 
bers. All its better thoughts of itself it hopes to 
realize through the new possibilities thus opened 
to its future self. ! Here individualism and social 
ism are at one. Only by being true to the full 
growth of all the individuals who make it up, can 


society by any chance be true to itself. And in 
the self-direction thus given, nothing counts as 
much as the school, for, as Horace Mann said, 
" Where anything is growing, one former is 
worth a thousand re-formers." 

Whenever we have in mind the discussion of 
a new movement in education, it is especially 
necessary to take the broader, or social view. 
Otherwise, changes in the school institution and 
tradition will be looked at as the arbitrary inven 
tions of particular teachers ; at the worst transi 
tory fads, and at the best merely improvements 
in certain details and this is the plane upon 
which it is too customary to consider school 
changes. It is as rational to conceive of the 
locomotive or the telegraph as personal devices. 
The modification going on in the method and"* 
curriculum of education is as much a product of 
the changed social situation, and as much an effort 
to meet the needs of the new society that, is j 
forming, as are changes in modes of industry and 

It is to this, then, that I especially ask your 
attention : the effort to conceive what roughly 
may be termed the " New Education" in the 
light of larger changes in society. Can we 
connect this "New Education" with the general 
march of events ? If we can, it will lose its iso 
lated character, and will cease to be an affair which 


proceeds only from the over-ingenious minds of 
pedagogues dealing with particular pupils. It 
will appear as part and parcel of the whole social 
evolution, and, in its more general features at 
least, as inevitable. Let us then ask after the main 
aspects of the social movement ; and afterwards 
turn to the school to find what witness it gives of 
effort to put itself in line. And since it is quite 
impossible to cover the whole ground, I shall for 
the most part confine myself to one typical 
thing in the modern school movement that 
which passes under the name of manual training, 
hoping if the relation of that to changed social 
conditions appears, we shall be ready to concede 
the point as well regarding other educational 

I make no apology for not dwelling at length 
upon the social changes in question. Those I 
shall mention are writ so large that he who runs 
may read. The change that comes first to mind, 
the one that overshadows and even controls all 
others, is the industrial one the application of 
science resulting in the great inventions that have 
utilized the forces of nature on a vast and inex 
pensive scale : the growth of a world-wide 
market as the object of production, of vast 
manufacturing centers to supply this market, of 
cheap and rapid means of communication and 
distribution between all its parts. Even as to its 


feebler beginnings, this change is not much more 
than a century old ; in many of its most impor 
tant aspects it falls within the short span of those 
now living. One can hardly believe there has 
been a revolution in all history so rapid, so 
extensive, so complete. Through it the face of 
the earth is making over, even as to its physical 
forms; political boundaries are wiped out and 
moved about, as if they were indeed only lines 
on a paper map ; population is hurriedly gathered 
into cities from the ends of the earth ; habits of 
living are altered with startling abruptness and 
thoroughness ; the search for the truths of nature 
is infinitely stimulated and facilitated and their 
application to life made not only practicable, 
but commercially necessary. Even our moral 
and religious ideas and interests, the most con 
servative because the deepest-lying things in 
our nature, are profoundly affected. That this 
revolution should not affect education in other 
than formal and superficial fashion is inconceiv 

Back of the factory system lies the household 
and neighborhood system. Those of us who 
are here today need go back only one, two, or 
at most three generations, to find a time when 
the household was practically the center in which 
were carried on, or about which were clustered, 
all the typical forms of industrial occupation. 


The clothing worn was for the most part not only 
made in the house, but the members of the house 
hold were usually familiar with the shearing of 
the sheep, the carding and spinning of the wool, 
and the plying of the loom. Instead of pressing 
a button and flooding the house with electric 
light, the whole process of getting illumination 
was followed in its toilsome length, from the 
killing of the animal and the trying of fat, to the 
making of wicks and dipping of candles. The 
supply of flour, of lumber, of foods, of building 
materials, of household furniture, even of metal 
ware, of nails, hinges, hammers, etc., was in the 
immediate neighborhood, in shops which were 
constantly open to inspection and often centers 
of neighborhood congregation. The entire in 
dustrial process stood revealed, from the produc 
tion on the farm of the raw materials, till the 
finished article was actually put to use. Not 
only this, but practically every member of the 
household had his own share in the work. The 
children, as they gained in strength and capacity, 
were gradually initiated into the mysteries of the 
several processes. It was a matter of immediate 
and personal concern, even to the point of actual 

We cannot overlook the factors of discipline 
and of character-building involved in this : train 
ing in habits of order and of industry, and in 


the idea of responsibility, of obligation to do 
something, to produce something, in the world. 
There was always something which really 
needed to be done, and a real necessity that each 
member of the household should do his own part 
faithfully and in cooperation with others. Person 
alities which became effective in action were bred 
and tested in the medium of action. Again, we 
cannot overlook the importance for educational 
purposes of the close and intimate acquaintance 
got with nature at first hand, with real things and 
materials, with the actual processes of their manip 
ulation, and the knowledge of their social neces 
sities and uses. In all this there was continual 
training of observation, of ingenuity, constructive 
imagination, of logical thought, and of the sense 
of reality acquired through first-hand contact with 
actualities. The educative forces of the domestic 
spinning and weaving, of the saw-mill, the grist 
mill, the cooper shop, and the blacksmith forge, 
were continuously operative. 

No number of object-lessons, got up as object- 
lessons for the sake of giving information, can 
afford even the shadow of a substitute for ac 
quaintance with the plants and animals of the 
farm and garden, acquired through actual living 
among them and caring for them. No training of 
sense-organs in school, introduced for the sake of 
training, can begin to compete with the alertness 



and fullness of sense-life thafcomes through daily 
intimacy and interest in familiar occupations. 
Verbal memory can be trained in committing 
tasks, a certain discipline of the reasoning 
powers can be acquired through lessons in sci 
ence and mathematics ; but, after all, this is 
somewhat remote and shadowy compared with 
the training of attention and of judgment that is 
acquired in having to do things with a real motive 
behind and a real outcome ahead. At present, 
concentration of industry and division of labor 
have practically eliminated household and neigh 
borhood occupations at least for educational pur 
poses. But it is useless to bemoan the departure 
of the good old days of children s modesty, rever 
ence, and implicit obedience, if we expect merely 
by bemoaning and by exhortation to bring them 
back. It is radical conditions which have 
changed, and only an equally radical change in 
education suffices. We must recognize our com 
pensations the increase in toleration, in breadth 
of social judgment, the larger acquaintance with 
human nature, the sharpened alertness in reading 
signs of character and interpreting social situa 
tions, greater accuracy of adaptation to differing 
personalities, contact with greater commercial 
activities. These considerations mean much to 
the city-bred child of today. Yet there is a real 
problem : how shall we retain these advantages, 


and yet introduce into the school something rep 
resenting the other side of life occupations 
which exact personal responsibilities and which 
train the child with relation to the physical reali 
ties of life ? 

When we turn to the school, we find that one 
of the most striking tendencies at present is 
toward the introduction of so-called manual 
training, shop-work, and the household arts 
sewing and cooking. 

This has not been done "on purpose," with a 
full consciousness that the school must now sup 
ply that factor of training formerly taken care of 
in the home, but rather by instinct, by experiment 
ing and finding that such work takes a vital hold 
of pupils and gives them something which was not 
to be got in any other way. Consciousness of its 
real import is still so weak that the work is often 
done in a half-hearted, confused, and unrelated way. 
The reasons assigned to justify it are painfully 
inadequate or sometimes even positively wrong. 

If we were to cross-examine even those who are 
most favorably disposed to the introduction of 
this work into our school system, we should, 
I imagine, generally find the main reasons to be 
that such work engages the full spontaneous inter 
est and attention of the children. It keeps them 
alert and active, instead of passive and receptive ; 
it makes them more useful, more capable, and 


hence more inclined to be helpful at home ; it 
prepares them to some extent for the practical 
duties of later life the girls to be more efficient 
house managers, if not actually cooks and semp 
stresses ; the boys (were our educational system 
only adequately rounded out into trade schools) 
for their future vocations. I do not underesti 
mate the worth of these reasons. Of those indi 
cated by the changed attitude of the children I 
shall indeed have something to say in my next talk, 
when speaking directly of the relationship of the 
school to the child. But the point of view is, 
upon the whole, unnecessarily narrow. We must 
conceive of work in wood and metal, of weaving, 
sewing, and cooking, as methods of life not as 
distinct studies. 

We must conceive of them in their social signifi 
cance, as types of the processes by which society 
keeps itself going, as agencies for bringing home 
to the child some of the primal necessities of com 
munity life, and as ways in which these needs have 
been met by the growing insight and ingenuity of 
man ; in short, as instrumentalities through which 
the school itself shall be made a genuine form of 
active community life, instead of a place set apart 
in which to learn lessons. 

A society is a number of people held together 
because they are working along common lines, in 
a common spirit, and with reference to common 


aims. The common needs and aims demand a 
growing interchange of thought and growing 
unity of sympathetic feeling. The radical reason 
that the present school cannot organize itself 
as a natural social unit is because just this ele 
ment of common and productive activity is ab 
sent. Upon the playground, in game and sport, 
social organization takes place spontaneously and 
inevitably. There :s something to do, some 
activity to be carried on, requiring natural divi 
sions of labor, selection of leaders and followers, 
mutual cooperation and emulation. In the 
schoolroom the motive and the cement of social 
organization are alike wanting. Upon the ethical 
side, the tragic weakness of the present school is 
that it endeavors to prepare future members of 
the social order in a medium in which the condi 
tions of the social spirit are eminently wanting. 
The difference that appears when occupations 
are made the articulating centers of school life is 
not easy to describe in words ; it is a difference 
in motive, of spirit and atmosphere. As one 
enters a busy kitchen in which a group of 
children are actively engaged in the preparation 
of food, the psychological difference, the change 
from more or less passive and inert recipiency 
and restraint to one of buoyant outgoing energy, 
is so obvious as fairly to strike one in the face. 
Indeed, to those whose image of the school is 


rigidly set the change is sure to give a shock. 
But the change in the social attitude is equally 
marked. The mere absorption of facts and 
truths is so exclusively individual an affair that 
it tends very naturally to pass into selfishness. 
There is no obvious social motive for the 
acquirement of mere learning, there is no clear 
social gain in success thereat. Indeed, almost 
the only measure for success is a competitive 
one, in the bad sense of that term a compari 
son of results in the recitation or in the exami 
nation to see which child has succeeded in 
getting ahead of others in storing up, in accumu 
lating the maximum of information. So thor 
oughly is this the prevalent atmosphere that for 
one child to help another in his task has become 
a school crime. Where the school work consists 
in simply learning lessons, mutual assistance, 
instead of being the most natural form of coop 
eration and association, becomes a clandestine 
effort to relieve one s neighbor of his proper 
duties. Where active work is going on all this is 
changed. Helping others, instead of being a 
form of charity which impoverishes the recipient, 
is simply an aid in setting free the powers and 
furthering the impulse of the one helped. A 
spirit of free communication, of interchange of 
ideas, suggestions, results, both successes and 
failures of previous experiences, becomes the 


dominating note of the recitation. So far as 
emulation enters in, it is in the comparison of 
individuals, not with regard to the quantity of 
information personally absorbed, but with refer 
ence to the quality of work done the genuine 
community standard of value. In an informal 
but all the more pervasive way, the school life 
organizes itself on a social basis. 

Within this organization is found the principle 
of school discipline or order. Of course, order 
is simply a thing which is relative to an end. If 
you have the end in view of forty or fifty 
children learning certain set lessons, to be 
recited to a teacher, your discipline must be 
devoted to securing that result. But if the end 
in view is the development of a spirit of social 
cooperation and community life, discipline must 
grow out of and be relative to this. There is 
little order of one sort where things are in 
process of construction ; there is a certain 
disorder in any busy workshop ; there is not 
silence ; persons are not engaged in maintaining 
certain fixed physical postures; their arms are not 
folded ; they are not holding their books thus 
and so. They are doing a variety of things, and 
\ . there is the confusion, the bustle, that results 
; from activity. But out of occupation, out of 
doing things that are to produce results, and out 
of doing these in a social and cooperative way, 


there is born a discipline of its own kind and 
type. Our whole conception of school discipline 
changes when we get this point of view. In 
critical moments we all realize that the only 
discipline that stands by us, the only training that 
becomes intuition, is that got through life itself. 
That we learn from experience, and from books 
or the sayings of others only as they are related 
to experience, are not mere phrases. But the 
school has been so set apart, so isolated from 
the ordinary conditions and motives of life, that 
the place where children are sent for discipline 
is the one place in the world where it is most 
difficult to get experience the mother of all 
discipline worth the name. . It is only where a 
narrow and fixed image of traditional school 
discipline dominates, that one is in any danger of 
overlooking that deeper and infinitely wider disci 
pline that comes from having a part to do in con 
structive work, in contributing to a result which, 
social in spirit, is none the less obvious and tangi 
ble in form and hence in a form with reference 
to which responsibility may be exacted and accu 
rate judgment passed. 

The great thing to keep in mind, then, regard 
ing the introduction into the school of various 
forms of active occupation, is that through them 
the entire spirit of the school is renewed. It has 
a chance to affiliate itself with life, to become the 


child s habitat, where he learns through directed 
living; instead of being only a place to learn 
lessons having an abstract and remote refer 
ence to some possible living to be done in the 
future. It gets a chance to be a miniature com 
munity, an embryonic society. This is the funda 
mental fact, and from this arise continuous and 
orderly sources of instruction. Under the industrial 
regime described, the child, after all, shared in the 
work, not for the sake of the sharing, but for the 
sake of the product. The educational results se 
cured were real, yet incidental and dependent. 
But in the school the typical occupations followed 
are freed from all economic stress. The aim is 
not the economic value of the products, but the 
development of social power and insight. It is 
this liberation from narrow utilities, this openness 
to the possibilities of the human spirit that makes 
these practical activities in the school allies of 
art and centers of science and history. 

The unity of all the sciences is found in geog 
raphy. The significance of geography is that it 
presents the earth as the enduring home of the 
occupations of man. The world without its rela 
tionship to human activity is less than a world. 
Human industry and achievement, apart from their 
roots in the earth, are not even a sentiment, hardly 
a name. The earth is the final source of all man s 
food. It is his continual shelter and protection, 


the raw material of all his activities, and the 
home to whose humanizing and idealizing all his 
achievement returns. It is the great field, the 
great mine, the great source of the energies of 
heat, light, and electricity ; the great scene of 
ocean, stream, mountain, and plain, of which all 
our agriculture and mining and lumbering, all our 
manufacturing and distributing agencies, are but 
the partial elements and factors. It is through 
occupations determined by this environment that 
mankind has made its historical and political 
progress. It is through these occupations that the 
intellectual and emotional interpretation of nature 
has been developed. It is through what we do 
in and with the world that we read its meaning 
and measure its value. 

In educational terms, this means that these 
occupations in the school shall not be mere prac 
tical devices or modes of routine employment, 
the gaining of better technical skill as cooks, 
sempstresses, or carpenters, but active centers of 
scientific insight into natural materials and pro 
cesses, points of departure whence children shall 
be led out into a realization of the historic de 
velopment of man. The actual significance of 
this can be told better through one illustration 
taken from actual school work than by general 

There is nothing which strikes more oddly upon 


the average intelligent visitor than to see boys as 
well as girls of ten, twelve, and thirteen years of 
age engaged in sewing and weaving. If we look 
at this from the standpoint of preparation of the 
boys for sewing on buttons and making patches, 
we get a narrow and utilitarian conception a 
basis that hardly justifies giving prominence to 
this sort of work in the school. But if we look 
at it from another side, we find that this work 
gives the point of departure from which the child 
can trace and follow the progress of mankind in 
history, getting an insight also into the materials 
used and the mechanical principles involved. In 
connection with these occupations, the historic 
development of man is recapitulated. For exam 
ple, the children are first given the raw material 
the flax, the cotton plant, the wool as it comes 
from the back of the sheep (if we could take them 
to the place where the sheep are sheared, so much 
the better). Then a study is made of these ma 
terials from the standpoint of their adaptation to 
the uses to which they may be put. For instance, 
a comparison of the cotton fiber with wool fiber is 
made. I did not know until the children told 
me, that the reason for the late development of 
the cotton industry as compared with the woolen 
is, that the cotton fiber is so very difficult to free 
by hand from the seeds. The children in one 
group worked thirty minutes freeing cotton fibers 


from the boll and seeds, and succeeded in get 
ting out less than one ounce. They could 
easily believe that one person could only gin 
one pound a day by hand, and could under 
stand why their ancestors wore woolen instead 
of cotton clothing. Among other things dis 
covered as affecting their relative utilities, was 
the shortness of the cotton fiber as compared with 
that of wool, the former being one-tenth of an 
inch in length, while that of the latter is an inch 
in length ; also that the fibers of cotton are smooth 
and do not cling together, while the wool has a 
certain roughness which makes the fibers stick, thus 
assisting the spinning. The children worked this 
out for themselves with the actual material, aided 
by questions and suggestions from the teacher. 

They then followed the processes necessary for 
working the fibers up into cloth. They re-invented 
the first frame for carding the wool a couple of 
boards with sharp pins in them for scratching it 
out. They re-devised the simplest process for 
spinning the wool a pierced stone or some 
other weight through which the wool is passed, 
and which as it is twirled draws out the fiber; 
next the top, which was spun on the floor, while 
the children kept the wool in their hands until 
it was gradually drawn out and wound upon 
it. Then the children are introduced to the in 
vention next in historic order, working it out 


experimentally, thus seeing its necessity, and 
tracing its effects, not only upon that particular 
industry, but upon modes of social life in this 
way passing in review the entire process up to 
the present complete loom, and all that goes with 
the application of science in the use of our pres 
ent available powers. I need not speak of the 
science involved in this the study of the fibers, 
of geographical features, the conditions under 
which raw materials are grown, the great centers 
of manufacture and distribution, the physics 
involved in the machinery of production ; nor, 
again, of the historical side the influence which 
these inventions have had upon humanity. You 
can concentrate the history of all mankind into 
the evolution of the flax, cotton, and wool fibers 
into clothing. I do not mean that this is the 
only, or the best, center. But it is true that 
certain very real and important avenues to the 
consideration of the history of the race are thus 
opened that the mind is introduced to much 
more fundamental and controlling influences than 
usually appear in the political and chronological 
records that pass for history. 

Now, what is true of this one instance of fibers 
used in fabrics (and, of course, I have only 
spoken of one or two elementary phases of that) 
is true in its measure of every material used in 
every occupation, and of the processes employed. 


The occupation supplies the child with a genuine 
motive; it gives him experience at first hand; 
it brings him into contact with realities. It does 
all this, but in addition it is liberalized through 
out by translation into its historic values and 
scientific equivalencies. With the growth of the 
child s mind in power and knowledge it ceases to 
be a pleasant occupation merely, and becomes 
more and more a medium, an instrument, an 
organ and is thereby transformed. 

This, in turn, has its bearing upon the teaching 
of science. Under present conditions, all activity, 
to be successful, has to be directed somewhere 
and somehow by the scientific expert it is a 
case of applied science. This connection should 
determine its place in education. It is not only 
that the occupations, the so-called manual or 
industrial work in the school, give the oppor 
tunity for the introduction of science which 
illuminates them, which makes them material, 
freighted with meaning, instead of being mere 
devices of hand and eye ; but that the scientific 
insight thus gained becomes an indispensable 
instrument of free and active participation in 
modern social life. Plato somewhere speaks of 
the slave as one who in his actions does not 
express his own ideas, but those of some other 
man. It is our social problem now, even more 
urgent than in the time of Plato, that method, 


purpose, understanding, shall exist in the con 
sciousness of the one who does the work, that 
his activity shall have meaning to himself. 

When occupations in the school are conceived 
in this broad and generous way, I can only stand 
lost in wonder at the objections so often heard, 
that such occupations are out of place in the 
school because they are materialistic, utilitarian, 
or even menial in their tendency. It sometimes 
seems to me that those who make these objections 
must live in quite another world. The world in 
which most of us live is a world in which every 
one has a calling and occupation, something to 
do. Some are managers and others are sub 
ordinates. But the great thing for one as for 
the other is that each shall have had the educa 
tion which enables him to see within his daily work 
all there is in it of large and human significance. 
How many of the employed are today mere 
appendages to the machines which they operate ! 
This may be due in part to the machine itself, or 
to the regime which lays so much stress upon the 
products of the machine ; but it is certainly due 
in large part to the fact that the worker has had 
no opportunity to develop his imagination and his 
sympathetic insight as to the social and scientific 
values found in his work. At present, the impulses 
which lie at the basis of the industrial system are 
either practically neglected or positively distorted 


during the school period. Until the instincts of 
construction and production are systematically 
laid hold of in the years of childhood and youth, 
until they are trained in social directions, enriched 
by historical interpretation, controlled and illu 
minated by scientific methods, we certainly are in 
no position even to locate the source of our eco 
nomic evils, much less to deal with them effectively. 
If we go back a few centuries, we find a prac 
tical monopoly of learning. . The term possession 
of learning was, indeed, a happy one. Learning 
was a class matter. This was a necessary result 
of social conditions. There were not in existence 
any means by which the multitude could possibly 
have access to intellectual resources. These were 
stored up and hidden away in manuscripts. Of 
these there were at best only a few, and it re 
quired long and toilsome preparation to be able 
to do anything with them. A high-priesthood of 
learning, which guarded the treasury of truth and 
which doled it out to the masses under severe re 
strictions, was the inevitable expression of these 
conditions. But, as a direct result of the indus 
trial revolution of which we have been speaking, 
this has been changed. Printing was invented ; 
it was made commercial. Books, magazines, 
papers were multiplied and cheapened. As a 
result of the locomotive and telegraph, fre 
quent, rapid, and cheap intercommunication by 


mails and electricity was called into being. 
Travel has been rendered easy ; freedom of move 
ment, with its accompanying exchange of ideas, 
indefinitely facilitated. The result has been an 
intellectual revolution. Learning has been put 
into circulation. While there still is, and prob 
ably always will be, a particular class having the 
special business of inquiry in hand, a distinctively 
learned class is henceforth out of the question. 
It is an anachronism. Knowledge is no longer an 
immobile solid ; it has been liquefied. It is active 
ly moving in all the currents of society itself. 

It is easy to see that this revolution, as regards 
the materials of knowledge, carries with it a 
marked change in the attitude of the individual. 
Stimuli of an intellectual sort pour in upon us in 
all kinds of ways. The merely intellectual life, 
the life of scholarship and of learning, thus gets a 
very altered value. Academic and scholastic, 
instead of being titles of honor, are becoming 
terms of reproach. 

But all this means a necessary change in the 
attitude of the school, one of which we are as 
yet far from realizing the full force. Our school 
methods, and to a very considerable extent our 
curriculum, are inherited from the period when 
learning and command of certain symbols, afford 
ing as they did the only access to learning, were 
all-important. The ideals of this period are still 


largely in control, even where the outward meth 
ods and studies have been changed. We some 
times hear the introduction of manual training, 
art and science into the elementary, and even the 
secondary schools, deprecated on the ground that 
they tend toward the production of specialists 
that they detract from our present scheme of 
generous, liberal culture. The point of this ob 
jection would be ludicrous if it were not often so 
effective as to make it tragic. It is our present 
education which is highly specialized, one-sided 
and narrow. It is an education dominated almost 
entirely by the mediaeval conception of learning. 
It is something which appeals for the most part 
simply to the intellectual aspect of our natures, 
our desire to learn, to accumulate information, 
and to get control of the symbols of learning ; 
not to our impulses and tendencies to make, to 
do, to create, to produce, whether in the form 
of utility or of art. The very fact that manual 
training, art and science are objected to as tech 
nical, as tending toward mere specialism, is of 
itself as good testimony as could be offered to 
the specialized aim which controls current edu 
cation. Unless education had been virtually iden 
tified with the exclusively intellectual pursuits, 
with learning as such, all these materials and 
methods would be welcome, would be greeted 
with the utmost hospitality. 


While training for the profession of learning 
is regarded as the type of culture, as a liberal 
education, that of a mechanic, a musician, a 
lawyer, a doctor, a farmer, a merchant, or a 
railroad manager is regarded as purely technical 
and professional. The result is that which we 
see about us everywhere the division into " cul 
tured " people and " workers," the separation of 
theory and practice. Hardly one per cent, of 
the entire school population ever attains to what 
we call higher education ; only five per cent, to 
the grade of our high school ; while much more 
than half leave on or before the completion of 
the fifth year of the elementary grade. The sim 
ple facts of the case are that in the great major 
ity of human beings the distinctively intellectual 
interest is not dominant. They have the so-called 
practical impulse and disposition. In many of those 
in whom by nature intellectual interest is strong, 
social conditions prevent its adequate realization. 
Consequently by far the larger number of pupils 
leave school as soon as they have acquired the 
rudiments of learning, as soon as they have enough 
of the symbols of reading, writing, and calcula 
ting to be of practical use to them in getting a 
living. While our educational leaders are talk 
ing of culture, the development of personality, 
etc., as the end and aim of education, the great 
majority of those who pass under the tuition of 


the school regard it only as a narrowly practical 
tool with which to get bread and butter enough 
to eke out a restricted life. If we were to con 
ceive our educational end and aim in a less 
exclusive way, if we were to introduce into edu 
cational processes the activities which appeal to 
those whose dominant interest is to do and to 
make, we should find the hold of the school upon 
its members to be more vital, more prolonged, 
containing more of culture. 

But why should I make this labored presenta 
tion ? The obvious fact is that our social life has 
undergone a thorough and radical change. If 
our education is to have any meaning for life, 
it must pass through an equally complete trans 
formation. This transformation is not something 
to appear suddenly, to be executed in a day by 
conscious purpose. It is already in progress. 
Those modifications of our school system which 
often appear (even to those most actively con 
cerned with them, to say nothing of their specta 
tors) to be mere changes of detail, mere improve 
ment within the school mechanism, are in reality 
signs and evidences of evolution. The intro 
duction of active occupations, of nature study, 
of elementary science, of art, of history ; the 
relegation of the merely symbolic and formal to 
a secondary position ; the change in the moral 
school atmosphere, in the relation of pupils and 


teachers of discipline ; the introduction of more 
active, expressive, and self-directing factors all 
these are not mere accidents, they are necessi 
ties of the larger social evolution. It remains 
but to organize all these factors, to appreciate 
them in their fullness of meaning, and to put the 
ideas and ideals involved into complete, uncom 
promising possession of our school system. To 
do this means to make each one of our schools 
an embryonic community life, active with types 
of occupations that reflect the life of the larger 
society, and permeated throughout with the 
spirit of art, history, and science. When the 
school introduces and trains each child of society 
into membership within such a little community, 
saturating him with the spirit of service, and pro 
viding him with the instruments of effective self- 
direction, we shall have the deepest and best 
guarantee of a larger society which is worthy, 
lovely, and harmonious. 




Last week I tried to put before you the rela 
tionship between the school and the larger life 
of the community, and the necessity for certain 
changes in the methods and materials of school 
work, that it might be better adapted to present 
social needs. 

Today I wish to look at the matter from the 
other side, and consider the relationship of the 
school to the life and development of the chil 
dren in the school. As it is difficult to connect 
general principles with such thoroughly concrete 
things as little children, I have taken the liberty 
of introducing a good deal of illustrative matter 
from the work of the University Elementary 
School, that in some measure you may appreciate 
the way in which the ideas presented work them 
selves out in actual practice. 

Some few years ago I was looking about the 
school supply stores in the city, trying to find 
desks and chairs which seemed thoroughly suit 
able from all points of view artistic, hygienic, 
and educational to the needs of the children. 
We had a good deal of difficulty in finding what 


we needed, and finally one dealer, more intelligent 
than the rest, made this remark : " I am afraid 
we have not what you want. You want some 
thing at which the children may work ; these are 
all for listening." That tells the story of the tra- 
ditional education. Just as the biologist can take 
a bone or two and reconstruct the whole animal, 
so, if we put before the mind s eye the ordinary 
schoolroom, with its rows of ugly desks placed in 
geometrical order, crowded together so that there 
shall be as little moving room as possible, desks 
almost all of the same size, with just space enough 
to hold books, pencils and paper, and add a table, 
some chairs, the bare walls, and possibly a few pic 
tures, we can reconstruct the only educational 
activity that can possibly go on in such a place. 
It is all made " for listening" for simply study 
ing lessons out of a book is only another kind of 
listening; it marks the dependency of one mind 
upon another. The attitude of listening means, 
comparatively speaking, passivity, absorption ; 
that there are certain ready-made materials which 
are there, which have been prepared by the school 
superintendent, the board, the teacher, and of 
which the child is to take in as much as possible 
in the least possible time. 

There is very little place in the traditional 
schoolroom for the child to work. The workshop, 
the laboratory, the materials, the tools with which 


the child may construct, create, and actively in 
quire, and even the requisite space, have been for 
the most part lacking. The things that have to 
do with these processes have not even a definitely 
recognized place in education. They are what the 
educational authorities who write editorials in the 
daily papers generally term " fads " and "frills." 
A lady told me yesterday that she had been 
visiting different schools trying to find one where 
activity on the part of the children preceded 
the giving of information on the part of the 
teacher, or where the children had some motive 
for demanding the information. She visited, 
she said, twenty-four different schools before she 
found her first instance. I may add that that was 
not in this city. 

Another thing that is suggested by these school 
rooms, with their set desks, is that everything is 
arranged for handling as large numbers of chil 
dren as possible; for dealing with children en masse, 
as an aggregate of units ; involving, again, that 
they be treated passively. The moment children 
act they individualize themselves ; they cease to 
be a mass, and become the intensely distinctive 
beings that we are acquainted with out of school, 
in the home, the family, on the playground, and 
in the neighborhood. 

On the same basis is explicable the uniformity 
of method and curriculum. If everything is on 


a "listening" basis, you can have uniformity of 
material and method. The ear, and the book 
which reflects the ear, constitute the medium 
which is alike for all. There is next to no oppor 
tunity for adjustment to varying capacities and 
demands. There is a certain amount a fixed 
quantity of ready-made results and accomplish 
ments to be acquired by all children alike in a 
given time. It is in response to this demand 
that the curriculum has been developed from the 
elementary school up through the college. There 
is just so much desirable knowledge, and there 
are just so many needed technical accomplish 
ments in the world. Then comes the mathe 
matical problem of dividing this by the six, 
twelve, or sixteen years of school life. Now 
give the children every year just the proportion 
ate fraction of the total, and by the time they have 
finished they will have mastered the whole. By 
covering so much ground during this hour or day 
or week or year, everything comes out with per 
fect evenness at the end provided the children 
have not forgotten what they have previously 
learned. The outcome of all this is Matthew 
Arnold s report of the statement, proudly made 
to him by an educational authority in France, that 
so many thousands of children were studying at a 
given hour, say eleven o clock, just such a lesson 
in geography ; and in one of our own western 


cities this proud boast used to be repeated to 
successive visitors by its superintendent. 

I may have exaggerated somewhat in order to 
make plain the typical points of the old education : 
its passivity of attitude, its mechanical massing of 
children, its uniformity of curriculum and method. 
It may be summed up by stating that the center of 
gravity is outside the child. It is in the teacher, 
the text-book, anywhere and everywhere you 
please except in the immediate instincts and ac 
tivities of the child himself. On that basis there 
is not much to be said about the life of the child. 
A good deal might be said about the studying of 
the child, but the school is not the place where 
the child lives. Now the change which is com 
ing into our education is the shifting of the cen 
ter of gravity. It is a change, a revolution, not 
unlike that introduced by Copernicus when the 
astronomical center shifted from the earth to 
the sun. In this case the child becomes the sun 
about which the appliances of education revolve; 
he is the center about which they are organized. 

If we take an example from an ideal home, 
where the parent is intelligent enough to recognize 
what is best for the child, and is able to supply 
what is needed, we find the child learning 
through the social converse and constitution of 
the family. There are certain points of interest 
and value to him in the conversation carried on : 


statements are made, inquiries arise, topics are 
discussed, and the child continually learns. He 
states his experiences, his misconceptions are cor 
rected. Again the child participates in the house 
hold occupations, and thereby gets habits of 
industry, order, and regard for the rights and 
ideas of others, and the fundamental habit of sub 
ordinating his activities to the general interest of 
the household. Participation in these household 
tasks becomes an opportunity for gaining knowl 
edge. The ideal home would naturally have a 
workshop where the child could work out his 
constructive instincts. It would have a min 
iature laboratory in which his inquiries could 
be directed. The life of the child would extend 
out of doors to the garden, surrounding fields, 
and forests. He would have his excursions, his 
walks and talks, in which the larger world out of 
doors would open to him. 

Now, if we organize and generalize all of this, 
we have the ideal school. There is no mystery 
about it, no wonderful discovery of pedagogy or 
educational theory. It is simply a question of do 
ing systematically and in a large, intelligent, and 
competent way what for various reasons can be 
done in most households only in a comparatively 
meager and haphazard manner. In the first place, 
the ideal home has to be enlarged. The child 
must be brought into contact with more grown 


people and with more children in order that there 
may be the freest and richest social life. More 
over, the occupations and relationships of the 
home environment are not specially selected for 
the growth of the child ; the main object is some 
thing else, and what the child can get out of them 
is incidental. Hence the need of a school. In 
this school the life of the child becomes the all- 
controlling aim. All the media necessary to fur 
ther the growth of the child center there. Learn 
ing? certainly, but living primarily, and learning 
through and in relation to this living. When we 
take the life of the child centered and organized 
in this way, we do not find that he is first of all a 
listening being; quite the contrary. 

The statement so frequently made that educa 
tion means " drawing out " is excellent, if we mean 
simply to contrast it with the process of pouring 
in. But, after all, it is difficult to connect the idea 
of drawing out with the ordinary doings of the 
child of three, four, seven, or eight years of age. 
He is already running over, spilling over, with 
activities of all kinds. He is not a purely latent 
being whom the adult has to approach with great 
caution and skill in order gradually to draw out 
some hidden germ of activity. The child is already 
intensely active, and the question of education is 
the question of taking hold of his activities, of 
giving them direction. Through direction, through 


organized use, they tend toward valuable results, 
instead of scattering or being left to merely 
impulsive expression. 

If we keep this before us, the difficulty I find 
uppermost in the minds of many people regard 
ing what is termed the new education is not so 
much solved as dissolved ; it disappears. A ques 
tion often asked is : if you begin with the child s 
ideas, impulses and interests, all so crude, so 
random and scattering, so little refined or spiritu 
alized, how is he going to get the necessary dis 
cipline, culture and information ? If there were 
no way open to us except to excite and indulge 
these impulses of the child, the question might 
well be asked. We should either have to ignore 
and repress the activities, or else to humor them. 
But if we have organization of equipment and of 
materials, there is another path open to us. We 
can direct the child s activities, giving them exer 
cise along certain lines, and ean thus lead up to 
the goal which logically stands at the end of 
the paths followed. 

" If wishes were horses, beggars would ride." 
Since they are not, since really to satisfy an 
impulse or interest means to work it out, and work 
ing it out involves running up against obstacles, 
becoming acquainted with materials, exercising 
ingenuity, patience, persistence, alertness, it of 
necessity involves discipline ordering of power 


and supplies knowledge. Take the example 
of the little child who wants to make a box. If 
he stops short with the imagination or wish, he 
certainly will not get discipline. But when he 
attempts to realize his impulse, it is a question of 
making his idea definite, making it into a plan, of 
taking the right kind of wood, measuring the 
parts needed, giving them the necessary propor 
tions, etc. There is involved the preparation of 
materials, the sawing, planing, the sand-papering, 
making all the edges and corners to fit. Knowl 
edge of tools and processes is inevitable. If the 
child realizes his instinct and makes the box, there 
is plenty of opportunity to gain discipline and 
perseverance, to exercise effort in overcoming 
obstacles, and to attain as well a great deal of 

So undoubtedly the little child who thinks he 
would like to cook has little idea of what it 
means or costs, or what it requires. It is simply 
a desire to " mess around," perhaps to imitate 
the activities of older people. And it is doubt 
less possible to let ourselves down to that level 
and simply humor that interest. But here, too, 
if the impulse is exercised, utilized, it runs up 
against the actual world of hard conditions, to 
which it must accommodate itself ; and there 
again come in the factors of discipline and knowl 
edge. One of the children became impatient 


recently, at having to work things out by a long 
method of experimentation, and said: "Why do 
we bother with this ? Let s follow a recipe in 
a cook-book." The teacher asked the children 
where the recipe came from, and the conversation 
showed that if they simply followed this they 
would not understand the reasons for what they 
were doing. They were then quite willing to go 
on with the experimental work. To follow that 
work will, indeed, give an illustration of just the 
point in question. Their occupation happened 
that day to be the cooking of eggs, as making a 
transition from the cooking of vegetables to that 
of meats. In order to get a basis of comparison 
they first summarized the constituent food elements 
in the vegetables and made a preliminary compari 
son with those found in meat. Thus they found 
that the woody fiber or cellulose in vegetables cor 
responded to the connective tissue in meat, giving 
the element of form and structure. They found 
that starch and starchy products were character 
istic of the vegetables, that mineral salts were 
found in both alike, and that there was fat in 
both a small quantity in vegetable food and a 
large amount in animal. They were prepared 
then to take up the study of albumen as the 
characteristic feature of animal food, correspond 
ing to starch in the vegetables, and were ready 
to consider the conditions requisite for the proper 


treatment of albumen the eggs serving as the 
material of experiment. 

They experimented first by taking water at 
various temperatures, finding out when it was 
scalding, simmering, and boiling hot, and ascer 
tained the effect of the various degrees of tem 
perature on the white of the egg. That worked 
out, they were prepared, not simply to cook 
eggs, but to understand the principle involved 
in the cooking of eggs. I do not wish to lose 
sight of the universal in the particular incident. 
For the child simply to desire to cook an egg, 
and accordingly drop it in water for three min 
utes, and take it out when he is told, is not edu 
cative. But for the child to realize his own 
impulse by recognizing the facts, materials and 
conditions involved, and then to regulate his 
impulse through that recognition, is educative. 
This is the difference, upon which I wish to insist, 
between exciting or indulging an interest and 
realizing it through its direction. 

Another instinct of the child is the use of 
pencil and paper. All children like to express 
themselves through the medium of form and 
color. If you simply indulge this interest by 
letting the child go on indefinitely, there is no 
growth that is more than accidental. But let the 
child first express his impulse, and then through 
criticism, question, and suggestion bring him to 


consciousness of what he has done, and what he 
needs to do, and the result is quite different. 
Here, for example, is the work of a seven-year-old 
child. It is not average work, it is the best work 
done among the little children, but it illustrates 
the particular principle of which I have been 
speaking. They had been talking about the 
primitive conditions of social life when people 
lived in caves. The child s idea of that found 
expression in this way : the cave is neatly set up 
on the hill side in an impossible way. You see 
the conventional tree of childhood ; a vertical 
line with horizontal branches on each side. If 
the child had been allowed to go on repeating 
this sort of thing day by day, he would be indulg 
ing his instinct rather than exercising it. But 
the child was now asked to look closely at trees, 
to compare those seen with the one drawn, to 
examine more closely and consciously into the 
conditions of his work. Then he drew trees from 

Finally he drew again from combined observa 
tion, memory, and imagination. He made again 
a free illustration, expressing his own imaginative 
thought, but controlled by detailed study of 
actual trees. The result was a scene representing 
a bit of forest ; so far as it goes, it seems to me 
to have as much poetic feeling as the work of an 
adult, while at the same time its trees are, in 


their proportions possible ones, not mere sym 

If we roughly classify the impulses which are 
available in the school, we may group them 
under four heads. There is the social instinct of 
the children as shown in conversation, personal 
intercourse, and communication. We all know 
how self-centered the little child is at the age of 
four or five. If any new subject is brought up, 
if he says anything at all, it is: "I have seen 
that;" or, "My papa or mamma told me about 
that." His horizon is not large ; an experience 
must come immediately home to him, if he is to 
be sufficiently interested to relate it to others 
and seek theirs in return. And yet the egoistic 
and limited interest of little children is in this 
manner capable of infinite expansion. The lan 
guage instinct is the simplest form of the social 
expression of the child. Hence it is a great, 
perhaps the greatest of all educational resources. 

Then there is the instinct of making the 
constructive impulse. The child s impulse to 
do finds expression first in play, in movement, 
gesture, and make-believe, becomes more definite, 
and seeks outlet in shaping materials into tangible 
forms and permanent embodiment. The child has 
not much instinct for abstract inquiry. The 
instinct of investigation seems to grow out of the 
combination of the constructive impulse with the 


conversational. There is no distinction between 
experimental science for little children and the 
work done in the carpenter shop. Such work as 
they can do in physics or chemistry is not for 
the purpose of making technical generalizations 
or even arriving at abstract truths. Children 
simply like to do things, and watch to see what 
will happen. But this can be taken advantage 
of, can be directed into ways where it gives 
results of value, as well as be allowed to go on 
at random. 

And so the expressive impulse of the children, 
the art instinct, grows also out of the communica 
ting and constructive instincts. It is their refine 
ment and full manifestation. Make the construc 
tion adequate, make it full, free, and flexible, give 
it a social motive, something to tell, and you have 
a work of art. Take one illustration of this in con 
nection with the textile work sewing and weav 
ing. The children made a primitive loom in the 
shop ; here the constructive instinct was appealed 
to. Then they wished to do something with this 
loom, to make something. It was the type of 
the Indian loom, and they were shown blankets 
woven by the Indians. Each child made a 
design kindred in idea to those of the Navajo 
blankets, and the one which seemed best adapted 
to the work in hand was selected. The technical 
resources were limited, but the coloring and form 


were worked out by the children. The example 
shown was made by the twelve-year-old children. 
Examination shows that it took patience, thor 
oughness, and perseverance to do the work. It 
involved not merely discipline and information of 
both a historical sort and the elements of tech 
nical design, but also something of the spirit of 
art in adequately conveying an idea. 

One more instance of the connection of the 
art side with the constructive side. The children 
had been studying primitive spinning and card 
ing, when one of them, twelve years of age, made 
a picture of one of the older children spinning. 
Here is another piece of work which is not quite 
average ; it is better than the average. It is an 
illustration of two hands and the drawing out of 
the wool to get it ready for spinning. This was 
done by a child eleven years of age. But, upon 
the whole, with the younger children especially, 
the art impulse is connected mainly with the 
social instinct the desire to tell, to represent. 

Now, keeping in mind these fourfold interests 
the interest in conversation or communication ; 
in inquiry, or finding out things ; in making 
things, or construction ; and in artistic expres 
sion we may say they are the natural resources, 
the uninvested capital, upon the exercise of which 
depends the active growth of the child. I wish 
to give one or two illustrations, the first from the 


work of children seven years of age. It illus 
trates in a way the dominant desire of the chil 
dren to talk, particularly about folks and of things 
in relation to folks. If you observe little chil 
dren, you will find they are interested in the 
world of things mainly in its connection with 
people, as a background and medium of human 
concerns. Many anthropologists have told us 
there are certain identities in the child interests 
with those of primitive life. There is a sort or 
natural recurrence of the child mind to the 
typical activities of primitive peoples ; witness 
the hut which the boy likes to build in the 
yard, playing hunt, with bows, arrows, spears, 
and so on. Again the question comes : What 
are we to do with this interest are we to ignore 
it, or just excite and draw it out? Or shall we 
get hold of it and direct it to something ahead, 
something better ? Some of the work that has 
been planned for our seven-year-old children has 
the latter end in view to utilize this interest 
so that it shall become a means of seeing the 
progress of the human race. The children begin 
by imagining present conditions taken away until 
they are in contact with nature at first hand. 
That takes them back to a hunting people, to a 
people living in caves or trees and getting a pre 
carious subsistence by hunting and fishing. They 
imagine as far as possible the various natural 



physical conditions adapted to that sort of life; 
say, a hilly, woody slope, near mountains and 
a river where fish would be abundant. Then 
they go on in imagination through the hunting to 
the semi-agricultural stage, and through the no 
madic to the settled agricultural stage. The 
point I wish to make is that there is abundant 
opportunity thus given for actual study, for in 
quiry which results in gaining information. So, 
while the instinct primarily appeals to the social 
side, the interest of the child in people and their 
doings is carried on into the larger world of 
reality. For example, the children had some 
idea of primitive weapons, of the stone arrow 
head, etc. That provided occasion for the testing 
of materials as regards their friability, their shape, 
texture, etc., resulting in a lesson in mineralogy, as 
they examined the different stones to find which 
was best suited to the purpose. The discussion 
of the iron age supplied a demand for the con 
struction of a smelting oven made out of clay, 
and of considerable size. As the children did 
not get their drafts right at first, the mouth of 
the furnace not being in proper relation to the 
vent, as to size and position, instruction in the 
principles of combustion, the nature of drafts and 
of fuel, was required. Yet the instruction was not 
given ready-made ; it was first needed, and then 
arrived at experimentally. Then the children 


took some material, such as copper, and went 
through a series of experiments, fusing it, work 
ing it into objects ; and the same experiments 
were made with lead and other metals. This work 
has been also a continuous course in geography, 
since the children have had to imagine and 
work out the various physical conditions neces 
sary to the different forms of social life implied. 
What would be the physical conditions appropri 
ate to pastoral life ? to the beginning of agricul 
ture ? to fishing ? What would be the natural 
method of exchange between these peoples ? 
Having worked out such points in conversation, 
they have afterward represented them in maps 
and sand-molding. Thus they have gained ideas 
of the various forms of the configuration of the 
earth, and at the same time have seen them 
in their relation to human activity, so that they 
are not simply external facts, but are fused and 
welded with social conceptions regarding the life 
and progress of humanity. The result, to my 
mind, justifies completely the conviction that 
children, in a year of such work (of five hours a 
week altogether), get indefinitely more acquaint 
ance with facts of science, geography, and 
anthropology than they get where information is 
the professed end and object, where they are 
simply set to learning facts in fixed lessons. As 
to discipline, they get more training of attention, 


more power of interpretation, of drawing infer 
ences, of acute observation and continuous reflec 
tion, than if they were put to working out arbi 
trary problems simply for the sake of discipline. 
I should like at this point to refer to the reci- 
taton. We all know what it has been a placer 
where the child shows off to the teacher and the 
other children the amount of information he has 
succeeded in assimilating from the text-book. 
From this other standpoint, the recitation be 
comes preeminently a social meeting place; it is 
to the school what the spontaneous conversation 
is at home, excepting that it is more organized, 
following definite lines. The recitation becomes 
the social clearing-house, where experiences and 
ideas are exchanged and subjected to criticism, 
where misconceptions are corrected, and new 
lines of thought and inquiry are set up. 

This change of the recitation from an examina 
tion of knowledge already acquired to the free 
play of the children s communicative instinct, 
affects and modifies all the language work of the 
school. Under the old rtgime it was unques 
tionably a most serious problem to give the 
children a full and free use of language. The 
reason was obvious. The natural motive for 
language was seldom offered. In the peda 
gogical text-books language is defined as the 
medium of expressing thought. It becomes 


that, more or less, to adults with trained minds, 
but it hardly needs to be said that language 
is primarily a social thing, a means by which 
we give our experiences to others and get theirs 
again in return. When it is taken from its 
natural basis, it is no wonder that it becomes a 
complex and difficult problem to teach language. 
Think of the absurdity of having to teach lan 
guage as a thing by itself. If there is anything the 
child will do before he goes to school, it is to 
talk of the things that interest him. But when 
there are no vital interests appealed to in the 
school, when language is used simply for the repe 
tition of lessons, it is not surprising that one of the 
chief difficulties of school work has come to be 
instruction in the mother-tongue. Since the lan 
guage taught is unnatural, not growing out of the 
real desire to communicate vital impressions and 
convictions, the freedom of children in its use 
gradually disappears, until finally the high-school 
teacher has to invent all kinds of devices to 
assist in getting any spontaneous and full use of 
speech. Moreover, when the language instinct is 
appealed to in a social way, there is a continual 
contact with reality. The result is that the child 
always has something in his mind to talk about, 
he has something to say ; he has a thought to 
express, and a thought is not a thought unless 
it is one s own. On the traditional method, 


the child must say something that he has merely 
learned. There is all the difference in the 
world between having something to say and 
having to say something. The child who has a 
variety of materials and facts wants to talk about 
them, and his language becomes more refined 
and full, because it is controlled and informed 
by realities. Reading and writing, as well as the 
oral use of language, maybe taught on this basis. 
It can be done in a related way, as the outgrowth 
of the child s social desire to recount his experi 
ences and get in return the experiences of others, 
directed always through contact with the facts 
and forces which determine the truth communi 

I shall not have time to speak of the work of 
the older children, where the original crude in 
stincts of construction and communication have 
been developed into something like scientifically 
directed inquiry, but I will give an illustration of 
the use of language following upon this experi 
mental work. The work was on the basis of a 
simple experiment of the commonest sort, grad 
ually leading the children out into geological and 
geographical study. The sentences that I am go 
ing to read seem to me poetic as well as "scien 
tific." "A long time ago when the earth was new, 
when it was lava, there was no water on the earth, 
and there was steam all round the earth up in the 


air, as there were many gases in the air. One of 
them was carbon dioxide. The steam became 
clouds, because the earth began to cool off, and 
after a while it began to rain, and the water came 
down and dissolved the carbon dioxide from the 
air." There is a good deal more science in 
that than probably would be apparent at the out 
set. It represents some three months of work on 
the part of the child. The children kept daily 
and weekly records, but this is part of the sum 
ming up of the quarter s work. I call this lan 
guage poetic, because the child has a clear image 
and has a personal feeling for the realities imaged. 
I extract sentences from two other records to illus 
trate further the vivid use of language when there 
is a vivid experience back of it. " When the 
earth was cold enough to condense, the water, 
with the help of carbon dioxide, pulls the calcium 
out of the rocks into a large body of water where 
the little animals could get it." The other reads 
as follows: "When the earth cooled, calcium 
was in the rocks. Then the carbon dioxide and 
water united and formed a solution, and, as it ran, 
it tore out the calcium and carried it on to the sea, 
where there were little animals who took it out of 
solution." The use of such words as "pulled " and 
"tore" in connection with the process of chem 
ical combination evidences a personal realization 
which compels its own appropriate expression. 


If I had not taken so much time in my other 
illustrations, I should like to show how, beginning 
with very simple material things, the children 
were led on to larger fields of investigation, 
and to the intellectual discipline that is the ac 
companiment of such research. I will simply 
mention the experiment in which the work 
began. It consisted in making precipitated 
chalk, used for polishing metals. The children, 
with simple apparatus a tumbler, lime water, 
and a glass tube precipitated the calcium car 
bonate out of the water ; and from this beginning 
went on to a study of the processes by which 
rocks of various sorts, igneous, sedimentary, etc., 
had been formed on the surface of the earth and 
the places they occupy ; then to points in the ge 
ography of the United States, Hawaii, and Puerto 
Rico ; to the effects of these various bodies of 
rock, in their various configurations, upon the 
human occupations ; so that this geological record 
finally rounded itself out into the life of man at 
the present time. The children saw and felt the 
connection between these geologic processes tak 
ing place ages and ages ago, and the physical 
conditions determining the industrial occupations 
of today. 

Of all the possibilities involved in the subject, 
"The School and the Life of the Child," I have 
selected but one, because I have found that that 


one gives people more difficulty, is more of a 
stumbling-block, than any other. One may be 
ready to admit that it would be most desirable 
for the school to be a place in which the child 
should really live, and get a life-experience in 
which he should delight and find meaning for 
its own sake. But then we hear this inquiry: 
how, upon this basis, shall the child get the 
needed information ; how shall he undergo the 
required discipline ? Yes, it has come to this, 
that with many, if not most, people the normal 
processes of life appear to be incompatible with 
getting information and discipline. So I have 
tried to indicate, in a highly general and inade 
quate way (for only the school itself, in its daily 
operation, could give a detailed and worthy rep 
resentation), how the problem works itself out 
how it is possible to lay hold upon the rudimentary 
instincts of human nature, and, by supplying a 
proper medium, so control their expression as 
not only to facilitate and enrich the growth of the 
individual child, but also to supply the results, 
and far more, of technical information and disci 
pline that have been the ideals of education in the 

But although I have selected this especial way 
of approach (as a concession to the question 
almost universally raised), I am not willing to 
leave the matter in this mpre or less negative and 


explanatory condition. Life is the great thing 
after all ; the life of the child at its time and in 
its measure, no less than the life of the adult. 
Strange would it be, indeed, if intelligent and 
serious attention to what the child now needs and 
is capable of in the way of a rich, valuable, and 
expanded life should somehow conflict with the 
needs and possibilities of later, adult life. " Let 
us live with our children," certainly means, first 
of all, that our children shall live not that they 
shall be hampered and stunted by being forced 
into all kinds of conditions, the most remote con 
sideration of which is relevancy to the present 
life of the child. If we seek the kingdom of 
heaven, educationally, all other things shall be 
added unto us which, being interpreted, is that 
if we identify ourselves with the real instincts ana*" " 
needs of childhood, and ask only after its fullest 
assertion and growth, the discipline and informa 
tion and culture of adult life shall all come in 
their due season. 

Speaking of culture reminds me that in a way 
I have been speaking only of the outside of the 
child s activity only of the outward expression 
of his impulses toward saying, making, finding 
out, and creating. The real child, it hardly need 
be said, lives in the world of imaginative values, 
and ideas which find only imperfect outward 
embodiment. We hear much nowadays about 


the cultivation of the child s "imagination." 
Then we undo much of our own talk and work 
by a belief that the imagination is some special 
part of the child, that finds its satisfaction in some 
one particular direction generally speaking, that 
of the unreal and make-believe, of the myth 
and made-up story. Why are we so hard of 
heart and so slow to believe ? The imagination 
is the medium in which the child lives. To him 
there is everywhere and in everything that occu 
pies his mind and activity at all, a surplusage of 
value and significance. The question of the rela 
tion of the school to the child s life is at bottom 
simply this : shall we ignore this native setting 
and tendency, dealing not with the living child 
at all, but with the dead image we have erected, 
or shall we give it play and satisfaction ? If 
we once believe in life and in the life of the child, 
then will all the occupations and uses spoken of, 
then will all history and science, become in 
struments of appeal and materials of culture to 
his imagination, and through that to the rich 
ness and the orderliness of his life. Where we 
now see only the outward doing and the outward 
product, there, behind all visible results, is the 
re-adjustment of mental attitude, the enlarged and 
sympathetic vision, the sense of growing power, 
and the willing ability to identify both insight 
and capacity with the interests of the world and 


man. Unless culture be a superficial polish, a 
veneering of mahogany over common wood, it 
surely is this the growth of the imagination in 
flexibility, in scope, and in sympathy, till the life 
which the individual lives is informed with the 
life of nature and of society. When nature and 
society can live in the schoolroom, when the 
forms and tools of learning are subordinated to 
the substance of experience, then shall there be 
an opportunity for this identification, and culture 
shall be the democratic password. 




The subject announced for today was "Waste 
in Education." I should like first to state briefly 
its relation to the two preceding lectures. The 
first dealt with the school in its social aspects, 
and the necessary re-adjustments that have to be 
made to render it effective in present social con 
ditions. The second dealt with the school in 
relation to the growth of individual children. 
Now the third deals with the school as itself an 
institution, both in relation to society and to its 
own members the children. It deals with the 
question of organization, because all waste is the 
result of the lack of it, the motive lying behind 
organization being promotion of economy and 
efficiency. This question is not one of the waste 
of money or the waste of things. These matters k 
count ; but the primary waste is that of human /I 
life, the life of the children while they are at 11 
school, and afterward because of inadequate and 
perverted preparation. 

So, when we speak of organization, we are not 

to think simply of the externals ; of that which 

goes by the name " school system " the school 

board, the superintendent, and the building, the 



engaging and promotion of teachers, etc. These 
things enter in, but the fundamental organization 
is that of the school itself as a community of in 
dividuals, in its relations to other forms of social 
life. All waste is due to isolation. Organiza 
tion is nothing but getting things into connection 
with one another, so that they work easily, flexi 
bly, and fully. Therefore in speaking of this 
question of waste in education, I desire to call 
your attention to the isolation of the various 
parts of the school system, to the lack of unity 
in the aims of education, to the lack of coherence 
in its studies and methods. 

I have made a chart (I) which, while I speak 
of the isolations of the school system itself, may 
perhaps appeal to the eye and save a little time 
in verbal explanations. A paradoxical friend of 
mine says there is nothing so obscure as an illus 
tration, and it is quite possible that my attempt 
to illustrate my point will simply prove the truth 
of his statement. 

The blocks represent the various elements in 
the school system, and are intended to indicate 
roughly the length of time given to each division, 
and also the overlapping, both in time and sub 
jects studied, of the individual parts of the sys 
tem. With each block is given the historical 
conditions in which it arose and its ruling 


The school system, upon the whole, has grown 
from the top down. During the middle ages it 
was essentially a cluster of professional schools 
especially law and theology. Our present uni 
versity comes down to us from the middle ages. 
I will not say that at present it is a mediaeval 
institution, but it had its roots in the middle ages, 
and it has not outlived all mediaeval traditions 
regarding learning. 

The kindergarten, rising with the present cen 
tury, was a union of the nursery and of the phi 
losophy of Schelling ; a wedding of the plays 
and games which the mother carried on with her 
children, to Schilling s highly romantic and sym 
bolic philosophy. The elements that came from 
the actual study of child life the continuation 
of the nursery have remained a life-bringing 
force in all education ; the Schellingesque factors 
made an obstruction between it and the rest of 
the school system, brought about isolations. 

The line drawn over the top indicates that 
there is a certain interaction between the kinder 
garten and the primary school ; for, so far as the 
primary school remained in spirit foreign to the 
natural interests of child life, it was isolated from 
the kindergarten, so that it is a problem, at pres 
ent, to introduce kindergarten methods into the 
primary school ; the problem of the so-called 
connecting class. The difficulty is that the two 


are not one from the start. To get a connection 
the teacher has had to climb over the wall instead 
of entering in at the gate. 

On the side of aims, the ideal of the kinder 
garten was the moral development of the children, 
rather than instruction or discipline ; an ideal 
sometimes emphasized to the point of sentimen 
tality. The primary school grew practically out 
of the popular-movement of the sixteenth century, 
when along with the invention of printing and 
the growth of commerce, it became a business 
necessity to know how to read, write, and figure. 
The aim was distinctly a practical one ; it was 
utility ; getting command of these tools, the sym 
bols of learning, not for the sake of learning, but 
because they gave access to careers in life other 
wise closed. 

The division next to the primary school is the 
grammar school. The term is not much used in 
the West, but is common in the eastern states. 
It goes back to the time of the revival of learn 
ing a little earlier perhaps than the conditions 
out of which the primary school originated, and, 
even when contemporaneous, having a different 
ideal. It had to do with the study of language 
in the higher sense ; because, at the time of the 
Renaissance, Latin and Greek connected people 
with the culture of the past, with the Roman and 
Greek world. The classic languages were the 


only means of escape from the limitations of the 
middle ages. Thus there sprang up the proto 
type of the grammar school, more liberal than 
the university (so largely professional in charac 
ter), for the purpose of putting into the hands of 
the people the key to the old learning, that 
men might see a world with a larger horizon. 
The object was primarily culture, secondarily dis 
cipline. It represented much more than the 
present grammar school. It was the liberal ele 
ment in the college, which, extending downward, 
grew into the academy and the high school. 
Thus the secondary school is still in part just a 
lower college (having an even higher curriculum 
than the college of a few centuries ago) or a pre 
paratory department to a college, and in part a 
rounding up of the utilities of the elementary 

There appear then two products of the nine 
teenth century, the technical and normal schools. 
The schools of technology, engineering, etc., are, 
of course, mainly the development of nineteenth- 
century business conditions, as the primary school 
was the development of business conditions of 
the sixteenth century. The normal school arose 
because of the necessity for training teachers, 
with the idea partly of professional drill, and 
partly that of culture. 

Without going into more detail, we have 


some eight different parts of the school system 
as represented on the chart, all of which arose 
historically at different times, having different 
ideals in view, and consequently different meth 
ods. I do not wish to suggest that all of the 
isolation, all of the separation, that has existed 
in the past between the different parts of the 
school system still persists. One must, however, 
recognize that they have never yet been welded 
into one complete whole. The great problem in 
education on the administrative side is how to 
unite these different parts. 

Consider the training schools for teachers 
the normal schools. These occupy at present a 
somewhat anomalous position, intermediate be 
tween the high school and the college, requiring 
the high-school preparation, and covering a cer 
tain amount of college work. They are isolated 
from the higher subject-matter of scholarship, 
since, upon the whole, their object has been 
to train persons how to teach, rather than what 
to teach ; while, if we go to the college, we find 
the other half of this isolation learning what to 
teach, with almost a contempt for methods of 
teaching. The college is shut off from contact 
with children and youth. Its members, to a great 
extent, away from home and forgetting their own 
childhood, become eventually teachers with a 
large amount of subject-matter at command, and 


little knowledge of how this is related to the 
minds of those to whom it is to be taught. In 
this division between what to teach and how to 
teach, each side suffers from the separation. 

It is interesting to follow out the inter-relation 
between primary, grammar, and high schools. 
The elementary school has crowded up and 
taken many subjects previously studied in the 
old New England grammar school. The high 
school has pushed its subjects down. Latin and 
algebra have been put in the upper grades, so 
that the seventh and eighth grades are, after all, 
about all that is left of the old grammar school. 
They are a sort of amorphous composite, being 
partly a place where children go on learning 
what they already have learned (to read, write, 
and figure) , and partly a place of preparation for 
the high school. The name in some parts of 
New England for these upper grades was "Inter 
mediate School." The term was a happy one ; 
the work was simply intermediate between some 
thing that had been and something that was 
going to be, having no special meaning on its 
own account. 

Just as the parts are separated, so do the ideals 
differ moral development, practical utility, 
general culture, discipline, and professional train 
ing. These aims are each especially represented 
in some distinct part of the system of education ; 


and with the growing interaction of the parts, 
each is supposed to afford a certain amount of 
culture, discipline, and utility. But the lack of 
fundamental unity is witnessed in the fact that 
one study is still considered good for discipline, 
and another for culture ; some parts of arithmetic, 
for example, for discipline and others for use, 
literature for culture, grammar for discipline, 
geography partly for utility, partly for culture; 
and so on. The unity of education is dissipated, 
and the studies become centrifugal ; so much of 
this study to secure this end, so much of that to 
secure another, until the whole becomes a sheer 
compromise and patchwork between contending 
aims and disparate studies. The great problem 
in education on the administrative side is to 
secure the unity of the whole, in the place of a 
sequence of more or less unrelated and overlap 
ping parts and thus to reduce the waste arising 
from friction, reduplication and transitions that 
are not properly bridged. 

In this second symbolic diagram (II) I wish to 
suggest that really the only way to unite the parts 
of the system is to unite each to life. We can get 
only an artificial unity so long as we confine our 
gaze to the school system itself. We must look 
at it as part of the larger whole of social life. This 
block (A) in the center represents the school 
system as a whole. ( I ) At one side we have the 






g <u 


ft (0 


home, and the two arrows represent the free 
interplay of influences, materials, and ideas be 
tween the home life and that of the school. (2) 
Below we have the relation to the natural envi 
ronment, the great field of geography in the widest 
sense. The school building has about it a natural 
environment. It ought to be in a garden, and 
the children from the garden would be led on to 
surrounding fields, and then into the wider coun 
try, with all its facts and forces. (3) Above is 
represented business life, and the necessity for 
free play between the school and the needs 
and forces of industry. (4) On the other side 
is the university proper, with its various phases, 
its laboratories, its resources in the way of 
libraries, museums, and professional schools. 

From the standpoint of the child, the great 
waste in the school comes from his inability to 
utilize the experiences he gets outside the school 
in any complete and free way within the school 
itself ; while, on the other hand, he is unable to 
apply in daily life what he is learning at school. 
That is the isolation of the school its isolation 
from life. When the child gets into the school 
room he has to put out of his mind a large part of 
the ideas, interests, and activities that predomi 
nate in his home and neighborhood. So the school, 
being unable to utilize this everyday experience, 
sets painfully to work, on another tack and by a 


variety of means, to arouse in the child an interest 
in school studies. While I was visiting in the city 
of Moline a few years ago, the superintendent told 
me that they found many children every year, 
who were surprised to learn that the Mississippi 
river in the text-book had anything to do with 
the stream of water flowing past their homes. 
The geography being simply a matter of the 
schoolroom, it is more or less of an awakening to 
many children to find that the whole thing is 
nothing but a more formal and definite statement 
of the facts which they see, feel, and touch every 
day. When we think that we all live on the 
earth, that we live in an atmosphere, that our lives 
are touched at every point by the influences of 
the soil, flora, and fauna, by considerations of 
light and heat, and then think of what the school 
study of geography has been, we have a typical 
idea of the gap existing between the everyday 
experiences of the child, and the isolated mate 
rial supplied in such large measure in the school. 
This is but an instance, and one upon which most 
of us may reflect long before we take the pres 
ent artificiality of the school as other than a mat 
ter of course or necessity. 

Though there should be organic connection 
between the school and business life, it is not 
meant that the school is to prepare the child for 
any particular business, but that there should be 


a natural connection of the everyday life of the 
child with the business environment about him, 
and that it is the affair of the school to clarify 
and liberalize this connection, to bring it to con 
sciousness, not by introducing special studies, 
like commercial geography and arithmetic, but 
by keeping alive the ordinary bonds of relation. 
The subject of compound-business-partnership is 
probably not in many of the arithmetics nowa 
days, though it was there not a generation ago, 
for the makers of text-books said that if they 
left out anything they could not sell their books. 
This compound-business-partnership originated 
as far back as the sixteenth century. The joint- 
stock company had not been invented, and as 
large commerce with the Indies and Americas 
grew up, it was necessary to have an accumula 
tion of capital with which to handle it. One man 
said, "I will put in this amount of money for six 
months," and another, "So much for two years," 
and so on. Thus by joining together they got 
money enough to float their commercial enter 
prises. Naturally, then, " compound partnership " 
was taught in the schools. The joint-stock com 
pany was invented ; compound partnership dis 
appeared, but the problems relating to it stayed 
in the arithmetics for two hundred years. They 
were kept after they had ceased to have practi 
cal utility, for the sake of mental discipline 


they were "such hard problems, you know." A 
great deal of what is now in the arithmetics 
under the head of percentage is of the same 
nature. Children of twelve and thirteen years of 
age go through gain and loss calculations, and 
various forms of bank discount so complicated 
that the bankers long ago dispensed with them. 
And when it is pointed out that business is not 
done this way, we hear again of " mental disci- 
pline." And yet there are plenty of real con 
nections between the experience of children and 
business conditions which need to be utilized and 
illuminated. The child should study his com 
mercial arithmetic and geography, not as isolated 
things by themselves, but in their reference to 
his social environment. The youth needs to 
become acquainted with the bank as a factor in 
modern life, with what it does, and how it does 
it ; and then relevant arithmetical processes 
would have some meaning quite in contradis 
tinction to the time-absorbing and mind-killing 
examples in percentage, partial payments, etc., 
found in all our arithmetics. 

The connection with the university, as indi 
cated in this chart, I need not dwell upon. I 
simply wish to indicate that there ought to be 
a free interaction between all the parts of the 
school system. There is much of utter triviality 
of subject-matter in elementary and secondary 


education. When we investigate it, we find that 
it is full of facts taught that are not facts, which 
have to be unlearned later on. Now, this hap 
pens because the "lower" parts of our system 
are not in vital connection with the "higher." 
The university or college, in its idea, is a place of 
research, where investigation is going on, a place 
of libraries and museums, where the best resources 
of the past are gathered, maintained and organ 
ized. It is, however, as true in the school as in 
the university that the spirit of inquiry can be 
got only through and with the attitude of inquiry. 
The pupil must learn what has meaning, what 
enlarges his horizon, instead of mere trivialities. 
He must become acquainted with truths, instead 
of things that were regarded as such fifty years 
ago, or that are taken as interesting by the mis 
understanding of a partially educated teacher. 
It is difficult to see how these ends can be 
reached except as the most advanced part of the 
educational system is in complete interaction 
with the most rudimentary. 

The next chart (III) is an enlargement of the 
second. The school building has swelled out, so 
to speak, the surrounding environment remaining 
the same, the home, the garden and country, the 
relation to business life and the university. The 
object is to show what the school must become 
to get out of its isolation and secure the organic 


connection with social life of which we have been 
speaking. It is not our architect s plan for the 
school building that we hope to have ; but it is a 
diagrammatic representation of the idea which 
we want embodied in the school building. On 
the lower side you see the dining-room and the 
kitchen, at the top the wood and metal shops, and 
the textile room for sewing and weaving. The 
center represents the manner in which all come 
together in the library; that is to say, in a collec 
tion of the intellectual resources of all kinds that 
throw light upon the practical work, that give it 
meaning and liberal value. If the four corners 
represent practice, the interior represents the the 
ory of the practical activities. In other words, 
the object of these forms of practice in the school 
is not found chiefly in themselves, or in the tech 
nical skill of cooks, seamstresses, carpenters and 
masons, but in their connection, on the social 
side, with the life without ; while on the individ 
ual side they respond to the child s need of action, 
of expression, of desire to do something, to be 
constructive and creative, instead of simply pas 
sive and conforming. Their great significance is 
that they keep the balance between the social 
and individual sides the chart symbolizing par 
ticularly the connection with the social. Here on 
one side is the home. How naturally the lines of 
connection play back and forth between the home 



and the kitchen and the textile room of the school! 
The child can carry over what he learns in the 
home and utilize it in the school; and the things 
learned in the school he applies at home. These 
are the two great things in breaking down isola 
tion, in getting connection to have the child 
come to school with all the experience he has 
got outside the school, and to leave it with some 
thing to be immediately used in his everyday life. 
The child comes to the traditional school with a 
healthy body and a more or less unwilling mind, 
though, in fact, he does not bring both his body 
and mind with him ; he has to leave his mind 
behind, because there is no way to use it in the 
school. If he had a purely abstract mind, he 
could bring it to school with him, but his is a 
concrete one, interested in concrete things, and 
unless these things get over into school life, he 
cannot take his mind with him. What we want 
is to have the child come to school with a whole 
mind and a whole body, and leave school with a 
fuller mind and an even healthier body. And 
speaking of the body suggests that, while there 
is no gymnasium in these diagrams, the active 
life carried on in its four corners brings with it 
constant physical exercise, while our gymna 
sium proper will deal with the particular weak 
nesses of children and their correction, and 
will attempt more consciously to build up the 


thoroughly sound body as the abode of the sound 

That the dining-room and kitchen connect with 
the country and its processes and products it is 
hardly necessary to say. Cooking may be so 
taught that it has no connection with country life, 
and with the sciences that find their unity in geog 
raphy. Perhaps it generally has been taught with 
out these connections being really made. But 
all the materials that come into the kitchen have 
their origin in the country ; they come from the 
soil, are nurtured through the influences of light 
and water, and represent a great variety of 
local environments. Through this connection, 
extending from the garden into the larger world, 
the child has his most natural introduction to the 
study of the sciences. Where did these things 
grow ? What was necessary to their growth ? 
What their relation to the soil ? What the effect 
of different climatic conditions? and so on. We 
all know what the old-fashioned botany was : 
partly collecting flowers that were pretty, press 
ing and mounting them ; partly pulling these 
flowers to pieces and giving technical names to 
the different parts, finding all the different leaves, 
naming all their different shapes and forms. It 
was a study of plants without any reference to 
the soil, to the country, or to growth. In contrast, 
a real study of plants takes them in their natural 


environment and in their uses as well, not simply 
as food, but in all their adaptations to the social 
life of man. Cooking becomes as well a most 
natural introduction to the study of chemistry, giv 
ing the child here also something which he can at 
once bring to bear upon his daily experience. I 
once heard a very intelligent woman say that she 
could not understand how science could be 
taught to little children, because she did not see 
how they could understand atoms and molecules. 
In other words, since she did not see how highly 
abstract facts could be presented to the child 
independently of daily experience, she could not 
understand how science could be taught at all. 
Before we smile at this remark, we need to ask 
ourselves if she is alone in her assumption, or 
whether it simply formulates almost all of our 
school practice. 

The same relations with the outside world are 
found in the carpentry and the textile shops. 
They connect with the country, as the source of 
their materials, with physics, as the science of 
applying energy, with commerce and distribution, 
with art in the development of .architecture and 
decoration. They have also an intimate connec 
tion with the university on the side of its tech 
nological and engineering schools ; with the lab 
oratory, and its scientific methods and results. 

To go back to the square which is marked the 


library (Chart III, A) : if you imagine rooms half 
in the four corners and half in the library, you will 
get the idea of the recitation room. That is the 
place where the children bring the experiences, the 
problems, the questions, the particular facts which 
they have found, and discuss them so that new 
light may be thrown upon them, particularly new 
light from the experience of others, the accumu 
lated wisdom of the world symbolized in the 
library. Here is the organic relation of theory and 
practice; the child not simply doing things, but 
getting also the idea of what he does ; getting 
from the start some intellectual conception that 
enters into his practice and enriches it ; while 
every idea finds, directly or indirectly, some appli 
cation in experience, and has some effect upon 
life. This, I need hardly say, fixes the position 
of the "book" or reading in education. Harm 
ful as a substitute for experience, it is all-impor 
tant in interpreting and expanding experience. 

The other chart (IV) illustrates precisely the 
same idea. It gives the symbolic upper story of 
this ideal school. In the upper corners are the 
laboratories ; in the lower corners are the studios 
for art work, both the graphic and auditory 
arts. The questions, the chemical and physical 
problems, arising in the kitchen and shop, are 
taken to the laboratories to be worked out. For 
instance, this past week one of the older groups 



fi 13 




O 0) 


of children doing practical work in weaving 
which involved the use of the spinning wheel, 
worked out the diagrams of the direction of 
forces concerned in treadle and wheel, and the 
ratio of velocities between wheel and spindle. 
In the same manner, the plants with which the 
child has to do in cooking, afford the basis for a 
concrete interest in botany, and may be taken and 
studied by themselves. In a certain school in 
Boston science work for months was centered in 
the growth of the cotton plant, and yet some 
thing new was brought in every day. We hope 
to do similar work with all the types of plants 
that furnish materials for sewing and weaving. 
These examples will suggest, I hope, the relation 
which the laboratories bear to the rest of the 

The drawing and music, or the graphic and 
auditory arts, represent the culmination, the 
idealization, the highest point of refinement of 
all the work carried on. I think everybody who 
has not a purely literary view of the subject recog 
nizes that genuine art grows out of the work of 
the artisan. The art of the Renaissance was great, 
because it grew out of the manual arts of life. It 
did not spring up in a separate atmosphere, how 
ever ideal, but carried on to their spiritual mean 
ing processes found in homely and everyday 
forms of life. The school should observe this 


relationship. The merely artisan side is narrow, 
but the mere art, taken by itself, and grafted on 
from without, tends to become forced, empty, 
sentimental. I do not mean, of course, that all 
art work must be correlated in detail to the 
other work of the school, but simply that a 
spirit of union gives vitality to the art, and depth 
and richness to the other work. All art involves 
physical organs, the eye and hand, the ear and 
voice; and yet it is something more than the 
mere technical skill required by the organs of 
expression. It involves an idea, a thought, a 
spiritual rendering of things ; and yet it is other 
than any number of ideas by themselves. It is a 
living union of thought and the instrument of 
expression. This union is symbolized by saying 
that in the ideal school the art work might be 
considered to be that of the shops, passed through 
the alembic of library and museum into action 

Take the textile room as an illustration of such 
a synthesis. I am talking about a future school, 
the one we hope, some time, to have. The basal 
fact in that room is that it is a workshop, doing 
actual things in sewing, spinning, and weaving. 
The children come into immediate connection 
with the materials, with various fabrics of silk, cot 
ton, linen and wool. Information at once appears 
in connection with these materials ; their origin, 


history, their adaptation to particular uses, and 
.the machines of various kinds by which the raw 
materials are utilized. Discipline arises in dealing 
with the problems involved, both theoretical and 
practical. Whence does the culture arise ? Partly 
from seeing all these things reflected through 
the medium of their scientific and historic con 
ditions and associations, whereby the child learns 
to appreciate them as technical achievements, 
as thoughts precipitated in action ; and partly 
because of the introduction of the art idea into 
the room itself. In the ideal school there would 
be something of this sort : first, a complete indus 
trial museum, giving samples of materials in vari 
ous stages of manufacture, and the implements, 
from the simplest to the most complex, used in 
dealing with them ; then a collection of photo 
graphs and pictures illustrating the landscapes 
and the scenes from which the materials come, 
their native homes, and their places of manufac 
ture. Such a collection would be a vivid and 
continual lesson in the synthesis of art, science, 
and industry. There would be, also, samples of 
the more perfect forms of textile work, as Italian, 
French, Japanese, and Oriental. There would 
be objects illustrating motives of design and 
decoration which have entered into production. 
Literature would contribute its part in its ideal 
ized representation of the world-industries, as 


the Penelope in the Odyssey a classic in lit 
erature only because the character is an adequate 
embodiment of a certain industrial phase of social 
life. So, from Homer down to the present time, 
there is a continuous procession of related facts 
which have been translated into terms of art. 
Music lends its share, from the Scotch song at 
the wheel to the spinning song of Marguerite, or 
of Wagner s Senta. The shop becomes a pictured 
museum, appealing to the eye. It would have 
not only materials, beautiful woods and designs, 
but would give a synopsis of the historical evolu 
tion of architecture in its drawings and pictures. 
Thus I have attempted to indicate how the 
school may be connected with life so that the 
experience gained by the child in a familiar, 
commonplace way is carried over and made 
use of there, and what the child learns in the 
school is carried back and applied in everyday 
life, making the school an organic whole, instead 
of a composite of isolated parts. The isolation 
of studies as well as of parts of the school sys 
tem disappears. Experience has its geographical 
aspect, its artistic and its literary, its scientific 
and its historical sides. All studies arise from 
aspects of the one earth and the one life lived 
upon it. We do not have a series of stratified 
earths, one of which is mathematical, another 
physical, another historical, and so on. We 


should not live very long in any one taken by 
itself. We live in a world where all sides are 
bound together. All studies grow out of relations 
in the one great comthon world. When the child 
lives in varied but doncrete and active relation 
ship to this common world, his studies are natu 
rally unified. It will no longer be a problem to 
correlate studies. The teacher will not have to 
resort to all sorts of devices to weave a little 
arithmetic into the history lesson, and the like. 
Relate the school to life, and all studies are of 
necessity correlated. 

Moreover, if the school is related as a whole to 
life as a whole, its various aims and ideals cul 
ture, discipline, information, utility cease to be 
variants, for one of which we must select one 
study and for another another. The growth of 
the child in the direction of social capacity and 
service, his larger and more vital union with life, 
becomes the unifying aim ; and discipline, culture 
and information fall into place as phases of this 

I wish to say one word more about the rela 
tionship of our particular school to the Univer 
sity. The problem is to unify, to organize edu 
cation, to bring all its various factors together, 
through putting it as a whole into organic union 
with everyday life. That which lies back of 
the pedagogical school of the University is the 


necessity of working out something to serve as a 
model for such unification, extending from work 
beginning with the four-year-old child up through 
the graduate work of the University. Already 
we have much help from the University in scientific 
work planned, sometimes even in detail, by heads 
of the departments. The graduate student comes 
to us with his researches and methods, suggesting 
ideas and problems. The library and museum 
are at hand. We want to bring all things edu 
cational together; to break down the barriers 
that divide the education of the little child from 
the instruction of the maturing youth ; to identify 
the lower and the higher education, so that it 
shall be demonstrated to the eye that there is no 
lower and higher, but simply education. 

Speaking more especially with reference to 
the pedagogical side of the work : I suppose 
the oldest university chair of pedagogy in our 
country is about twenty years old that of the 
University of Michigan, founded in the latter 
seventies. But there are only one or two that 
have tried to make a connection between theory 
and practice. They teach for the most part by 
theory, by lectures, by reference to books, rather 
than through the actual work of teaching itself. 
At Columbia, through the Teachers College, 
there is an extensive and close connection between 
the University and the training of teachers. 


Something has been done in one or two other 
places along the same line. We want an even 
more intimate union here, so that the University 
shall put all its resources at the disposition of the 
elementary school, contributing to the evolution 
of valuable subject-matter and right method, 
while the school in turn will be a laboratory in 
which the student of education sees theories and 
ideas demonstrated, tested, criticised, enforced, 
and the evolution of new truths. We want the 
school in its relation to the University to be a 
working model of a unified education. 

A word as to the relation of the school to 
educational interests generally. I heard once 
that the adoption of a certain method in use in 
our school was objected to by a teacher on this 
ground : "You know that it is an experimental 
school. They do not work under the same 
conditions that we are subject to." Now, the 
purpose of performing an experiment is that 
other people need not experiment ; at least need 
not experiment so much, may have something 
definite and positive to go by. An experiment 
demands particularly favorable conditions in 
order that results may be reached both freely 
and securely. It has to work unhampered, with 
all the needed resources at command. Labor 
atories lie back of all the great business enter" 
prises of today, back of every great factory, 


every railway and steamship system. Yet the 
laboratory is not a business enterprise ; it does 
not aim to secure for itself the conditions of 
business life, nor does the commercial undertak 
ing repeat the laboratory. There is a difference 
between working out and testing a new truth, or 
a new method, and applying it on a wide scale, 
making it available for the mass of men, making 
it commercial. But the first thing is to discover 
the truth, to afford all necessary facilities, for 
this is the most practical thing in the world in 
the long run. We do not expect to have other 
schools literally imitate what we do. A working 
model is not something to be copied ; it is to 
afford a demonstration of the feasibility of the 
principle, and of the methods which make it 
feasible. So (to come back to our own point) 
we want here to work out the problem of the 
unity, the organization of the school system in 
itself, and to do this by relating it so intimately 
to life as to demonstrate the possibility and 
necessity of such organization for all education. 




The school was started the first week in Janu 
ary, three years ago. I shall try this afternoon to 
give a brief statement of the ideas and problems 
that were in mind when the experiment was 
started, and a sketch of the development of the 
work since that time. We began in a small house 
in Fifty-seventh street, with fifteen children. We 
found ourselves the next year with twenty-five 
children in Kimbark avenue, and then moved in 
January to Rosalie court, the larger quarters 
enabling us to take forty children. The next 
year the numbers increased to sixty, the school 
remaining at Rosalie court. This year we have 
had ninety-five on the roll at one time, and are 
located at 5412 Ellis avenue, where we hope to 
stay till we have a building and grounds of our 

The children during the first year of the school 
were between the ages of six and nine. Now 

* Stenographic report of a talk by John Dewey at a meeting 
of the Parents Association of the University Elementary School, 
February, 1899; somewhat revised. 


their ages range between four and thirteen the 
members of the oldest group being in their thir 
teenth year. This is the first year that we have 
children under six, and this has been made possi 
ble through the liberality of friends in Honolulu, 
H. I., who are building up there a -memorial kin 
dergarten along the same lines. 

The expenses of the school during the first 
year, of two terms only, were between $1,300 and 
$1,400. The expenses this year will be about 
$12,000. Of this amount $5,500 will come from 
tuitions; $5,000 has been given by friends inter 
ested in the school, and there remains about 
$1,500 yet to be raised for the conduct of the 
school. This is an indication of the increase of 
expenses. The average expense per pupil is 
about the same since the start, i, e., $120 per 
child per school year. Relatively speaking, this 
year the expenses of the school took something 
of a jump, through the expense of moving to a 
new building, and the repairs and changes there 
necessary. An increase in the staff of teachers 
has also enlarged the work as well as the debits 
of the school. Next year (1899-1900) we hope 
to have about 120 children, and apparently the 
expenses will be about $2,500 more than this. Of 
this amount $2,000 will be met by the increase in 
tuition from the pupils. The cost of a child to 
the school, $120 a year, is precisely the tuition 


charged by the University for students and is 
double the average tuition charged by the school. 
But it is not expected that the University tuition 
will come anywhere near meeting the expense 
involved there. One reason for not increasing 
the tuition here, even if it were advisable for other 
reasons, is that it is well to emphasize, from an 
educational point of view, that elementary as 
well as advanced education requires endowment. 
There is every reason why money should be 
spent freely for the organization and mainte 
nance of foundation work in education as well 
as for the later stages. 

The elementary school has had from the out 
set two sides : one, the obvious one of instruc 
tion of the children who have been intrusted to 
it ; the other, relationship to the University, 
since the school is under the charge, and forms a 
part of the pedagogical work of the University. 

When the school was started, there were cer 
tain ideas in mind perhaps it would be better 
to say questions and problems ; certain points 
which it seemed worth while to test. If you will 
permit one personal word, I should like to say 
that it is sometimes thought that the school 
started out with a number of ready-made princi 
ples and ideas which were to be put into practice 
at once. It has been popularly assumed that I 
am the author of these ready-made ideas and 


principles which were to go into execution. I 
take this opportunity to say that the educational 
conduct of the school, as well as its administra 
tion, the selection of subject-matter, and the 
working out of the course of study, as well as 
actual instruction of children, have been almost 
entirely in the hands of the teachers of the 
school ; and that there has been a gradual devel 
opment of the educational principles and meth 
ods involved, not a fixed equipment. The teach 
ers started with question marks, rather than with 
fixed rules, and if any answers have been reached, 
it is the teachers in the school who have supplied 
them. We started upon the whole with four such 
questions, or problems : 

i. What can be done, and how can it be 
done, to bring the school into closer relation 
with the home and neighborhood life instead of 
having the school a place where the child comes 
solely to learn certain lessons ? What can be 
done to break down the barriers which have unfor 
tunately come to separate the school life from the 
rest of the everyday life of the child ? This does 
not mean, as it is sometimes, perhaps, interpreted 
to mean, that the child should simply take up in 
the school things already experienced at home 
and study them, but that, so far as possible, the 
child shall have the same attitude and point of 
view in the school as in the home ; that he shall 


find the same interest in going to school, and in 
there doing things worth doing for their own sake, 
that he finds in the plays and occupations which 
busy him in his home and neighborhood life. It 
means, again, that the motives which keep the 
child at work and growing at home shall be used 
in the school, so that he shall not have to acquire 
another set of principles of actions belonging 
only to the school separate from those of the 
home. It is a question of the unity of the child s 
experience, of its actuating motives and aims, 
not of amusing or even interesting the child. 

2. What can be done in the way of introdu 
cing subject-matter in history and science and art, 
that shall have a positive value and real signifi 
cance in the child s own life ; that shall represent, 
even to the youngest children, something worthy 
of attainment in skill or knowledge ; as much so 
to the little pupil as are the studies of the high- 
school or college student to him ? You know 
what the traditional curriculum of the first few 
years is, even though many modifications have 
been made. Some statistics have been collected 
showing that 75 or 80 per cent, of the first three 
years of a child in school are spent "upon the 
form not the substance of learning, the 
mastering of the symbols of reading, writing, 
and arithmetic. There is not much positive nu 
triment in this. Its purpose is important is 


necessary but it does not represent the same kind 
of increase in a child s intellectual and moral ex 
perience that is represented by positive truth of 
history and nature, or by added insight into reality 
and beauty. One thing, then, we wanted to find 
out is how much can be given a child that is 
really worth his while to get, in knowledge of the 
world about him, of the forces in the world, of 
historical and social growth, and in capacity to 
express himself in a variety of artistic forms. 
From the strictly educational side this has been 
the chief problem of the school. It is along this 
line that we hope to make our chief contribution 
to education in general ; we hope, that is, to work 
out and publish a positive body of subject-matter 
which may be generally available. 

3. How can instruction in these formal, sym 
bolic branches the mastering of the ability to 
read, write, and use figures intelligently be 
carried on with everyday experience and occu 
pation as their background and in definite rela 
tions to other studies of more inherent content, 
and be carried on in such a way that the child 
shall feel their necessity through their connection 
with subjects which appeal to him on their own 
account? If this can be accomplished, he will 
have a vital motive for getting the technical 
capacity. It is not meant, as has been sometimes 
jocosely stated, that the child learn to bake and 


sew at school, and to read, write, and figure at 
home. It is intended that these formal subjects 
shall not be presented in such large doses at first 
as to be the exclusive objects of attention, and 
that the child shall be led by that which he is 
doing to feel the need for acquiring skill in the 
use of symbols and the immediate power they 
give. In any school, if the child realizes the mo 
tive for the use and application of number and 
language he has taken the longest step toward 
securing the power ; and he can realize the mo 
tive only as he has some particular not some 
general and remote use for the symbols. 

4. Individual attention. This is secured by 
small groupings eight or ten in a class and 
a large number of teachers supervising systemati 
cally the intellectual needs and attainments and 
physical well-being and growth of the child. To 
secure this we have now 135 hours of instruct 
ors time per week, that is, the time of nine 
teachers for three hours per day, or one teacher 
per group. It requires but a few words to make 
this statement about attention to individual pow 
ers and needs, and yet the whole of the school s 
aims and methods, moral, physical, intellectual, 
are bound up in it. 

I think these four points present a fair state 
ment of what we have set out to discover. The 
school is often called an experimental school, and 


in one sense that is the proper name. I do not 
like to use it too much, for fear parents will 
think we are experimenting upon the children, 
and that they naturally object to. But it is an 
experimental school at least I hope so with 
reference to education and educational problems. 
We have attempted to find out by trying, by do 
ing not alone by discussion and theorizing 
whether these problems may be worked out, and 
how they may be worked out. 

Next a few words about the means that have 
been used in the school in order to test these 
four questions, and to supply their answers, 
and first as to the place given to hand-work of 
different kinds in the school. There are three 
main lines regularly pursued : (#) the shop-work 
with wood and tools, () cooking work, and (c) 
work with textiles sewing and weaving. Of 
course, there is other hand-work in connection 
with science, as science is largely of an experi 
mental nature. It is a fact that may not have 
come to your attention that a large part of the 
best and most advanced scientific work involves 
a great deal of manual skill, the training of the 
hand and eye. It is impossible for one to be a 
first-class worker in science without this train 
ing in manipulation, and in handling apparatus 
and materials. In connection with the his 
tory work, especially with the younger children, 


hand-work is brought in in the way of making 
implements, weapons, tools, etc. Of course, the 
art work is another side drawing, painting, and 
modeling. Logically, perhaps, the gymnasium 
work does not come in here, but as a means 
of developing moral and intellectual control 
through the medium of the body it certainly 
does. The children have one-half hour per 
day of this form of physical exercise. Along 
this line we have found that hand-work, in large 
variety and amount, is the most easy and natural 
method of keeping up the same attitude of the 
child in and out of the school. The child gets the 
largest part of his acquisitions through his bodily 
activities, until he learns to work systematically 
with the intellect. That is the purpose of this 
work in the school, to direct these activities, to 
systematize and organize them, so that they shall 
not be as haphazard and as wandering as they are 
outside of school. The problem of making these 
forms of practical activity work continuously and 
definitely together, leading from one factor of skill 
to another, from one intellectual difficulty to 
another, has been one of the most difficult, and 
at the same time one in which we have been 
most successful. The various kinds of work, 
carpentry, cooking, sewing, and weaving, are 
selected as involving different kinds of skill, and 
demanding different types of intellectual attitude 


on the part of the child, and because they repre 
sent some of the most important activities of the 
everyday outside world : the question of living 
under shelter, of daily food and clothing, of the 
home, of personal movement and exchange of 
goods. He gets also the training of sense organs, 
of touch, of sight, and the ability to coordinate 
eye and hand. He gets healthy exercise ; for the 
child demands a much larger amount of physical 
activity than the formal program of the ordi 
nary school permits. There is also a continual 
appeal to memory, to judgment, in adapting 
ends to means, a training in habits of order, 
industry, and neatness in the care of the tools 
and utensils, and in doing things in a systematic, 
instead of a haphazard, way. Then, again, 
these practical occupations make a background, 
especially in the earlier groups, for the later 
studies. The children get a good deal of 
chemistry in connection with cooking, of number 
work and geometrical principles in carpentry, and 
a good deal of geography in connection with 
their theoretical work in weaving and sewing. 
History also comes in with the origin and growth 
of various inventions, and their effects upon 
social life and political organization. 

Perhaps more attention, upon the whole, has 
been given to our second point, that of positive 
subject-matter, than to any one other thing. On 


the history side the curriculum is now fairly well 
worked out. The younger children begin with the 
home and occupations of the home. In the sixth 
year the intention is that the children should 
study occupations outside the home, the larger 
social industries farming, mining, lumber, etc. 
that they may see the complex and various social 
industries on which life depends, while inciden 
tally they investigate the use of the various mate 
rials woods, metals, and the processes applied 
thus getting a beginning of scientific study. The 
next year is given to the historical development 
of industry and invention starting with man as 
a savage and carrying him through the typical 
phases of his progress upward, until the iron age 
is reached and man begins to enter upon a 
civilized career. The object of the study of 
primitive life is not to keep the child inter 
ested in lower and relatively savage stages, 
but to show him the steps of progress and 
development, especially along the line of in 
vention, by which man was led into civiliza 
tion. There is a certain nearness, after all, in 
the child to primitive forms of life. They are 
much more simple than existing institutions. 
By throwing the emphasis upon the progress 
of man, and upon the way advance has been 
made, we hope to avoid the objections that 
hold against paying too much attention to 


the crudities and distracting excitements of sav 
age life. 

The next two or three years, i. e., the fourth 
and fifth grades, and perhaps the sixth, will be 
devoted to American history. It is then that 
history, properly speaking, begins, as the study 
of primitive life can hardly be so called. 

Then comes Greek history and Roman, in 
the regular chronological order, each year having 
its own work planned with reference to what has 
come before and after. 

The science work was more difficult to arrange 
and systematize, because there was so little to 
follow so little that has been already done in 
an organized way. We are now at work upon a 
program, 1 and I shall not speak in detail about it. 
The first two or three years cultivate the chil 
dren s powers of observation, lead them to sym 
pathetic interest in the habits of plants and 
animals, and to look at things with reference to 
their uses. Then the center of the work becomes 
geographical the study of the earth, as the most 
central thing. From this almost all the work 
grows out, and to it the work goes back. Another 
standpoint in the science work is that of the 
application of natural forces to the service of man 
through machines. Last year a good deal of work 

This year s program is published in the Elementary School 
Record. Address The University of Chicago Press for particulars. 


was done in electricity (and will be repeated this 
year), based on the telegraph and telephone 
taking up the things that can easily be grasped. 

In mechanics they have studied locks and clocks 
with reference to the adaptation of the various 
parts of the machinery. All this work makes 
a most excellent basis for more formal physics 
later on. Cooking gives opportunity for get 
ting a great many ideas of heat and water, and 
of their effects. The scientific work taken up 
in the school differs mainly from that of other 
schools in having the experimental part phys 
ics and chemistry emphasized, and is not con 
fined simply to nature study the study of 
plants and animals. Not that the latter is less 
valuable, but that we find it possible to introduce 
the physical aspects from the first. 

If I do not spend a large amount of time in 
speaking of the music and art work, it is not 
because they are not considered valuable and 
important certainly as much so as any other 
work done in the school, not only in the 
development of the child s moral and aes 
thetic nature, but also from a strictly intel 
lectual point of view. I know of no work in 
the school that better develops the power of 
attention, the habit of observation and of con- 
secutiveness, of seeing parts in relation to a 


I shall now say a few words about the admin 
istrative side of the school. At the outset we 
mixed up the children of different ages and attain 
ments as much as possible, believing there were 
mental advantages in the give-and-take thus 
secured, as well as the moral advantages in hav 
ing the older assume certain responsibilities in 
the care of the younger. As the school grew, it 
became necessary to abandon the method, and to 
group the children with reference to their com 
mon capacities. These groupings, however, are 
based, not on ability to read and write, but upon 
similarity of mental attitude and interest, and 
upon general intellectual capacity and mental 
alertness. There are ways in which we are still 
trying to carry out the idea of mixing up the 
children, that we may not build the rigid step- 
ladder system of the "graded" school. One 
step in this direction is having the children move 
about and come in contact with different teachers. 
While there are difficulties and evils connected 
with this, I think one of the most useful things 
in the school is that children come into intimate 
relation with a number of different personalities. 
The children also meet in general assemblies 
for singing, and for the report of the whole 
school work as read by members of the different 
groups. The older children are also given a 
half hour a week in which to join some of the 


younger groups, and, if possible, as in hand 
work, enter into the work of the younger chil 
dren. In various ways we are attempting to 
keep a family spirit throughout the school, and 
not the feeling of isolated classes and grades. 

The organization of the teaching force has 
gradually become departmental, as the needs of the 
work have indicated its chief branches. So we 
now have recognized divisions of Science, History, 
Domestic or Household Arts, Manual Training in 
the limited sense (wood and metals), Music, Art 
(that is, drawing, water colors, clay modeling, 
etc.), and Gymnasium. As the work goes on 
into the secondary period, the languages and 
mathematics will also of necessity assume a more 
differentiated and distinct position. As it is 
sometimes said that correlated or thoroughly 
harmonized work cannot be secured upon this 
basis, I am happy to say that our experience 
shows positively that there are no intrinsic diffi 
culties. Through common devotion to the best 
development of the child, through common loy 
alty to the main aims and methods of the school, 
our teachers have demonstrated that in educa 
tion, as in business, the best organization is se 
cured through proper regard for natural divi 
sions of labor, interest, and training. The child 
secures the advantage in discipline and knowl 
edge of contact with experts in each line, while 


the individual teachers serve the common thought 
in diverse ways, thus multiply ing and re-inforcing it. 
Upon the moral side, that of so-called disci 
pline and order, where the work of the University 
Elementary School has perhaps suffered most 
from misunderstanding and misrepresentation, I 
shall say only that our ideal has been, and con 
tinues to be, that of the best form of family life, 
rather than that of a rigid graded school. In 
the latter, the large number of children under 
the care of a single teacher, and the very lim 
ited number of modes of activity open to the 
pupils, have made necessary certain fixed and 
somewhat external forms of " keeping order." It 
would be very stupid to copy these, under the 
changed conditions of our school, its small 
groups permitting and requiring the most inti 
mate personal acquaintance of child and teacher, 
and its great variety of forms of work, with 
their differing adaptations to the needs of dif 
ferent children. If we have permitted to our 
children more than the usual amount of freedom, 
it has not been in order to relax or decrease real 
discipline, but because under our particular con 
ditions larger and less artificial responsibilities 
could thus be required of the children, and their 
entire development of body and spirit be more 
harmonious and complete. And I am confi 
dent that the parents who have intrusted their 


children to us for any length of time will agree 
in saying that, while the children like, or love, to 
come to school, yet work, and not amusement, 
has been the spirit and teaching of the school ; 
and that this freedom has been granted under 
such conditions of intelligent and sympathetic 
oversight as to be a means of upbuilding and 
strengthening character. 

At the end of three years, then, we are not 
afraid to say that some of our original questions 
have secured affirmative answers. The increase 
of our children from fifteen to almost one hun 
dred, along with a practical doubling of fees, has 
shown that parents are ready for a form of edu 
cation that makes individual growth its sole con 
trolling aim. The presence of an organized 
corps of instructors demonstrates that thoroughly 
educated teachers are ready to bring to elemen 
tary education the same resources of training, 
knowledge, and skill that have long been at the 
command of higher education. The everyday 
work of the school shows that children can live 
in school as out of it, and yet grow daily in wis 
dom, kindness, and the spirit of obedience that 
learning may, even with little children, lay hold 
upon the substance of truth that nourishes the 
spirit, and yet the forms of knowledge be ob 
served and cultivated ; and that growth may be 
genuine and thorough, and yet a delight. 



Educ Dewey, John 

D The School and society